Perdue hosts biofuels industry as USDA releases pro-ethanol study

-The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hosted the Advance Bioeconomy Leadership Conference today at the Agriculture Department as USDA released a new study favorable to ethanol.

In a short speech, Perdue told the biofuels executives gathered in USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium that he looks upon biofuel as a “healthy” and “environmentally friendly industry,” and is glad it is in the United States.

“Our goal is to give you a stable platform of confidence” for the new technologies the industry is developing, Perdue said.

He noted that USDA has released a study Tuesday that found greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are about 39 percent lower than gasoline.

The study, led by Jan Lewandrowski of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, and published in the journal Biofuels, also states that when ethanol is refined at natural gas-powered refineries, the greenhouse gas emissions are even lower, around 43 percent below gasoline.

“These new findings provide further evidence that biofuels from America’s heartland reduce greenhouse gases even more than we thought, and that our farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective,” Perdue said in a news release.

Perdue also praised Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler for authorizing the sale of E15 year round, but did not mention EPA’s waivers for the use of ethanol in small refineries that the ethanol industry say have reduced demand.

At USDA, the attendees at the conference also heard from officials from USDA and other agencies that have programs to help the industry. Perdue noted that the rural development and forestry titles of the farm bill encourage alternative energies and said “at USDA, we are working, driving our folks to implement this farm bill as soon as possible.”

The conference continues Thursday at the Mayflower Hotel.