|Published: Wednesday, 06/27/07
Tennesseans can fight high gas prices with our own
By GERALD NICELY
Tobacco was once the cash crop for Tennessee farmers, and gas and diesel
were the only fuels available to Tennessee motorists. But times are
changing. Farming and our need for clean, homegrown, renewable fuel sources
are converging to offer other options.
There are two biofuels getting increased attention and use in Tennessee.
Ethanol is made from starchy crops such as corn and wheat and converted to
simple sugars. The most common ethanol is E-85. And biodiesel is a
cleaner-burning fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as new and
used vegetable oils and animal fats.
Since February 2006, Gov. Phil Bredesen's Alternative Fuels Working Group
has focused on ways to encourage the development of alternative fuels. We
are working to develop local markets for farmers who grow crops that can be
used in bio-fuels. And we're encouraging local governments and state-funded
universities to increase the use of alternative fuels in their fleets and
measure positive impacts. It's equally important for business to take on the
manufacture of these products and for fuel station owners to invest in the
distribution. The last link in this "from farm to fuel tank" process is the
Bredesen awarded 10 "Green Island Corridor" (GIC) grants June 6 to retail
fuel stations, bringing us closer to making biofuels a viable option for
These grants help small, independent businesses install new E85 ethanol and
B20 biodiesel pumps as part of the emerging Green Island Biofuel Network
across the state. More GIC grants will be awarded in coming months.
Tennessee has the potential to be a national leader in the production of
ethanol from biomass. Biomass is plant matter such as wood waste, grasses,
agricultural crops or other biological material. The governor has allocated
$72.6 million for the research and development in this, primarily ethanol
produced from switchgrass.
Americans gain in freedom and independence when we lessen our dependence on
foreign oil. Thursday is the first-ever "Biofuels Day" in Tennessee. It
kicks off a statewide public education effort and outreach campaign called "BioTenn"
to increase citizen awareness and understanding of biofuels in Tennessee.
The use of biofuels can provide small-business investment opportunities for
station owners, agricultural options for farmers, choices for consumers and,
last but not least, environmental quality for all of us.
We want Tennessee to be a leader in biofuels in the Southeast, and we need
your help as a motorist and consumer of fuel. Join us Thursday and celebrate
independence with biofuels in Tennessee.