January 12, 2007

FLORIDA: Cultivating a Bioconversion Industry

As the most tropical state on the continent, Florida provides a unique combination of climate and agriculture for the cultivation of biomass feedstock. Almost more important, it has a state commissioner that recognizes the unique opportunity the state has to lead the nation in bioconversion of its crops into biofuels.

The Fueling Station website has a report on Commissioner Charles H. Bronson's appeal to Florida legislators to provide a regulatory environment (equal to the agricultural ecology) necessary to cultivate a powerhouse bioconversion industry there. Here is part of the report...

Florida Official Touts Alternative Fuels To Lawmakers.

Florida has the capability of producing more alternative fuels than anywhere else in the country, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson told state legislators on Wednesday.

Appearing before a joint meeting of the House Agribusiness and House Energy Committees, Bronson said the state's abundant sunshine, ample rainfall and year-round growing season puts Florida ahead of every state in the country in its potential to produce ethanol and bio-diesel crops.

"You today are in a position of putting Florida ahead of the pack," Bronson said. "It will be a Florida that looks much different than it does today."

What are needed are tax incentives or some form of financial assistance that the state can provide to encourage growers to produce alternative energy crops and processors to locate facilities in Florida to convert the crops to fuel, Bronson said.

Bronson is a member of the steering committee of "25x25" -- a national bipartisan organization whose goal is to see U.S. agriculture produce 25 percent of the nation's energy needs by the year 2025. He has launched the state's Farm to Fuel program, which encompasses efforts under way in Florida to see that goal realized.

The Commissioner told legislators that unlike the Midwest, where corn is the primary alternative energy crop, research done at the University of Florida has concluded that by using certain bacteria, virtually any type of bio-mass can be broken down to fuel. That would include wood, forestry debris, plant stalks and even livestock waste in addition to conventional crops.

"The opportunities in Florida are going to shock you," Bronson said.


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