Dallas, Texas [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Panda Energy announced that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued an air permit for the company’s fuel ethanol project, a milestone for the $120 million ethanol facility that will use biomass energy such as cow manure to make the renewable fuel.The Panda Energy ethanol plant is planned on a 1,120-acre site halfway between Satanta and Sublette, in Haskell County, Kansas. When completed in late 2007, the facility — said to be the largest in the U.S. — will produce more than 100 million gallons of fuel ethanol a year. The Haskell County plant will be unique in Kansas in that it will use cow manure as a fuel source to operate the plant. This project, which is similar to Panda’s Hereford, Texas, project currently under way, will annually convert one billion pounds of cattle manure into a clean-burning biogas used to power the plant’s operations. By utilizing biogas instead of natural gas, the Haskell County plant will save the equivalent of 1,000 barrels of imported oil per day. “This project should fit well into the agricultural nature of the communities of Sublette and Satanta and the project will bring job opportunities and growth stimulus to our region of the State,” said Charles A. Myers, President of the Haskell County Economic Development Board in Kansas. Panda Energy said it is becoming one of the country’s top producers of ethanol, with the Haskell County project one among three fuel ethanol plants announced by Panda Energy. The other plants are located in Yuma, Colorado, and Hereford, Texas. The combined production of all three plants will replace 7.2 million barrels of imported gasoline annually. The U.S. imports about 60% of the crude oil it refines. The Haskell County fuel ethanol plant will replace 2.4 million barrels of imported gasoline each year. While prices at the pump fluctuate, an 85% blend of ethanol with gasoline (E85) is often selling for up to 30 cents less per gallon than regular unleaded. Since 1978, all cars produced for use in the U.S. can use a blend of gasoline and 10% ethanol, and major car manufacturers are increasingly producing cars and trucks that can use E85 (85% ethanol, 13% gasoline). Panda Energy is a privately held company that has built more than 9,000 MW of electric generation capacity at a cost of $5 billion. In addition to fuel ethanol plants, Panda is also currently developing biomass electric-generating facilities and biodiesel plants.