Op-Eds

Farmers Fueling America

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Washington, May 31, 2006 | comments

With the rise in gasoline prices, most Americans are now paying even closer attention to escalating energy prices, but there is one group of Americans that has been especially affected by the negative effects of rising energy costs. Every morning across our nation thousands of farmers and ranchers fuel up and head out to tend their livelihoods, and our nation’s growing dependence on foreign energy sources is crippling their ability to do their jobs.

We face a daunting, but not insurmountable, task in building a domestic biofuels industry. It is imperative that we invest in our energy independence, and the very Americans that are feeling the greatest strain might just be our best hope. House Democrats recently unveiled "Energizing America: Farmer's Fueling Our Energy Independence," a plan that calls for increasing investments in homegrown biofuels. America has the resources it needs including plentiful crops and fields to make fuel to power our vehicles. Such innovative homegrown alternatives would greatly benefit American fuel consumers and our nation’s agricultural sector.

First, the comprehensive “Energizing America” plan would increase the production of American made biofuels. This would be accomplished by providing tax incentives to farmers and ranchers to encourage increases in biofuels production. It is anticipated that in only six years, the percentage of renewable fuels sold in the United States would double.

Furthermore, America would experience an expansion in the market for the distribution of biofuels. This would increase the number of flex fuel vehicles on the road, and expand the number of ethanol and biodiesel pumps at gas stations. In seven years, 75% of all cars made in the U.S. would be flex fuel cars, which can burn both ethanol and regular unleaded gasoline.

Finally, the research and development of biofuels would eventually lead to other vehicle efficient technologies, environmentally sound energy solutions, and new processes for converting other farm products into biofuels.

Investing in homegrown biofuels will provide positive returns; American farmers will benefit from both reduced fuel costs and an increase in demand for their crops; profitable goods will be created in a new biofuels industry, and America will finally be able to beginning stepping out from under the control of foreign energy markets. A sustained investment in research and development will provide continuing returns for decades to come, both financially and politically.

We’ve already begun to see the positive results of such investments in Texas. The H-E-B Grocery Store chain has announced that it plans to introduce E85 fuel pumps to a handful of their gas stations along the I35 corridor. Unlike normal gasoline, this fuel is produced using corn produced by American farmers. As a result, a good portion of the revenue generated by E85 sales will flow to farmers in Texas and around the country, capitalizing on America’s vast renewable natural resources.

I envision an energy policy that eliminates our dependence on Middle Eastern oil while ushering a new energy economy right here at home by providing a stable source of fuel and good paying jobs in rural America.

As a member of Congress, I am prepared and committed to working with my colleagues in the House to explore every possible means to bring balance to this critical issue, further improving America’s energy policies.

 


 

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