Petersburg, FL – (July 24, 2007) (AgNewsWire) Florida stands ready to become a leader in both the production and consumption of biofuels, including ethanol.
At the second annual Florida Farm to Fuel Summit in St. Petersburg, it was evident that major government leaders, including Governor Charlie Crist, are excited about the potential for ethanol in the Sunshine State.
“This has become a movement,” Crist told the conference on Thursday. “It's finally registered with everybody that this is something that is not only good for our environment, it's good for our country, it's a national security issue, it gets us off foreign oil – it is simply the right thing to do for America.”
“As governor of Florida, I think we have a wonderful opportunity to lead in this regard, more than anyone else,” Crist continued. “I love corn, it's great. But we've got sugarcane and citrus waste and one of the most amazing agricultural industries in the world.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Service Charles Bronson is the driving force behind the state's Farm to Fuel program, which is part of the nationwide 25x'25 initiative that calls for the country to obtain 25 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2025. Bronson's ambition is even greater for Florida.
“My goal is that we produce 30 percent of our total fuel supply,” said Bronson. “Thirty percent is somewhere around 2.5 billion gallons of fuel.”
Bronson expects to import another 30 percent of Florida's fuel supply from outside the state, making it 60 percent renewable.
“That will make us very sustainable, not only in Florida, but in this country,” Bronson said.
Robert White with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council talked about his organization's marketing and promotion efforts in Florida with the “Florida Needs Ethanol” campaign that kicked off earlier this year, one he says will be ramping up in the next few months.
“Obviously our objective is to educate Floridians on ethanol as it starts to flow,” said White. “I can tell you that there is a contract being negotiated right now to clean underground storage tanks to bring in E10 before the end of the year. So, congratulations, you are about to become a very welcomed ethanol state.”
The state of Florida is making a significant investment in research and development of biofuels, especially cellulosic ethanol, and Matt Hartwig with the Renewable Fuels Association told the Farm to Fuel Summit that this is the future for ethanol.
“We are talking about cellulose and wood chips and citrus waste, we're going to need it all,” said Hartwig. “The research and development needs to be done by the federal government, the state and by our industry itself. By working together we can all make sure that these technologies come to the marketplace much sooner than most people think is possible.”
Hartwig also noted that legislation passed by the Senate recently calls for an expansion of the Renewable Fuels Standard to 36 billion gallons by 2022 and requiring that 21 billion gallons of that must come from feedstocks other than corn.