Lugar, Visclosky Team Up to Secure $3 Million in Federal Funding for Ethanol/Biomass Plant
Washington, D.C. – Senator Richard Lugar and Congressman Pete Visclosky announced today that they have secured $3 million to help fund a major ethanol/biomass fuel plant just east of Rensselaer in Jasper County, Indiana.
The funding was included in the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, which was signed into law by President Bush on November 9. The $3 million secured by Lugar and Visclosky will be used to help the Iroquois Bio-Energy Cooperative (IBEC) build the estimated $56-million facility, which will produce an estimated 40 million gallons of ethanol annually.
“I am extremely excited and pleased that Congressman Visclosky and Senator Lugar can help us start a farmer-owned cooperative ethanol plant in Indiana,” said Michael Aylesworth, President of the Indiana Corn Growers Association and Chairman of IBEC. “This is just the jump start that’s needed to bring ethanol production by farmer-owned cooperatives to Indiana. I can’t thank them enough.”
“I think it’s particularly thrilling and rewarding that we’re getting this kind of support from Senator Lugar and Congressman Visclosky,” said James Staton, President of the Jasper County Industrial Foundation. “The Senator and Congressman working together reinforces our belief in ethanol. With a Republican Senator and a Democratic Congressman working together, we’re in a great position to make this work.”
Lugar and Visclosky both expect this plant to play an important role in any push to decrease America’s dependency on foreign oil as an energy source. In the first eight months of 2001, the United States imported more than 11.8 million barrels of oil each month, and foreign oil this year has accounted for 59.8 percent of domestic consumption. Lugar has long been an avid supporter of increased production of alternative fuels to decrease these numbers.
“Increasing domestic production of fossil fuels is not a complete solution to either our short-term or our long-term energy deficiencies. The United States accounts for a quarter of the world’s oil consumption, while possessing only four percent of proven world oil reserves. Even with an aggressive oil exploration campaign, the U.S. share of the world oil reserves is unlikely to increase by more than a percentage point. Put simply, we cannot drill our way out of our energy dilemma,” said Lugar, whose biomass research initiative has accelerated the development of biofuels made from virtually anything that grows.
“Becoming energy independent is a vital part of our national security,” said Visclosky, who sits on the Defense Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. “In today’s world, anything we can do to decrease our dependency on foreign oil will increase our safety and our defense capabilities. This new plant will help us do that.”
In addition to its role in decreasing America’s foreign oil needs, the plant will also provide a needed new market for corn growers and create an estimated 40 to 50 new jobs. It will draw corn from nine Indiana counties, including Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton, Benton, LaPorte, Starke, Pulaski, and White.
It is estimated the new plant will consume 14 million bushels of corn each year. This will help farmers in the nine-county area, who must export most of their 128-million bushels of annual production. With less than half of the area’s annual corn production being processed for food or industrial uses, corn growers in Northwest Indiana traditionally receive the lowest prices in the state for their crops.
“Not only will this help add value to farmers crops and help ensure profitability for family farms, but it also dovetails into self-sufficiency in fuel for our nation, thus leading toward less energy dependence on the Mideast,” Aylesworth said.
“In addition to helping America achieve greater energy independence, this plant will also provide a much-needed economic boost to Jasper County and the surrounding area,” Visclosky said. “I am committed to creating good-paying jobs for Northwest Indiana residents, and more markets for our hard-working farmers.”
Furthermore, Lugar also noted that biofuels are better for the environment than traditional fuels.
“Biofuels are particularly significant because they contribute no net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the cycle of growth, fermentation and combustion. The transportation sector is our most difficult energy challenge because of its ubiquitous dependence on fossil fuels. This environmentally superior alternative is created anew by our farmers every year,” Lugar said.