Bioenergy

New York State Backs Cellulosic Ethanol

A $20 million program in the New York state budget is slotted for the development of a cellulosic ethanol pilot facility in New York State, Governor George E. Pataki announced, renewing his call for the adoption of his energy independence plan to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy by boosting the production of clean, renewable fuels.

“It is imperative that our State and nation work aggressively to transition from high-cost, imported petroleum to clean, renewable fuels like ethanol,” Governor Pataki said, during a visit to the State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse. “The development of cellulosic ethanol is already underway at SUNY-ESF and other institutions, and has shown great promise to be an energy-efficient fuel that can be produced in large quantities from materials abundant in New York.” Cellulosic ethanol is made from plant tissue, in a process that breaks down a fraction of the plant fiber into sugars that are then converted into ethanol. Cellulose materials are the most common organic sources on earth, and can be derived from willow, switchgrass, agricultural and forestry residues, pulp and paper mill wastes, and corn stalks. Since these plants and organic wastes are abundant in New York, their use in making ethanol could significantly increase the volume of ethanol production. The Governor, who noted that Americans spend a quarter trillion dollars a year on imported energy, announced State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Food and Agricultural Industry Development (FAID) grants, which will produce feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production: $60,000 for SUNY-ESF to develop its first commercial willow plantation, and $22,385 for Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University to begin 15-acre growing trials of switchgrass. Both of these projects will establish feedstocks that can be used in the production of cellulosic ethanol. State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan said, “I believe development of this industry is among the most promising opportunities for the success of agriculture in the future and, with these initiatives, New York is among the nation’s leaders in developing aggressive alternative fuels incentives.” Other proposals in Governor Pataki’s energy independence plan provide incentives for the use of hybrid vehicles, siting and development of an advanced “clean coal” plant in New York State, and the New York State Thruway Authority’s initiative to install renewable fuel pumps at all 27 travel plazas.