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Range Fuels Biorefinery Groundbreaking

November 6, 2007 - 5:00pm

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Remarks as Prepared for Secretary Bodman

Thank you.  And let me say how much it means to have my old friend Vinodh here to introduce me.  You are a true pioneer in this industry.

I also want to thank Mitch for asking me to be here.  It's good to see Tom Dorr from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, our partner in so much of the federal government's biomass research and development and deployment efforts.

Gov. Perdue, as always, it's great to be in Georgia and to see the progress occurring here under your leadership.  I want to reaffirm our support for governors and state legislators who exhibit the kind of leadership you've shown in developing America's new energy future.

In order to maximize the market penetration of ethanol, the Department will be proactive in making available to you and other states our biomass and state energy program resources to remove regulatory impediments and modernize state regulations.

Today marks the beginning of a new phase of our effort to make America more energy secure.

In January 2007 President Bush put an aggressive plan before the American people to lessen the U.S. transportation sector's reliance on foreign oil.  That plan, the President's Twenty in Ten initiative is expected to generate a reduction in the projected demand for gasoline by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

Under Twenty in Ten, automobile manufacturers would be required to produce vehicles more fuel efficient than today's and the volume of renewable and alternative fuels used by the transportation sector would increase to 35 billion gallons a year by 2017.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Department of Energy to support the construction of six transformational, commercial scale biorefineries to help produce those fuels.  These biorefineries will demonstrate the commercial viability of biofuels derived from feedstocks that are not part of the food supply.

The funding the Department of Energy is providing leverages over $1.2 billion in total investment.  These six sites differ in their location and in the feed stocks that they will use, but they will all help us move toward the day when biofuels made from cellulosic ethanol can be made in nearly every part of the country.

The production of cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol is important to America's energy future.  These biorefineries are being constructed to make them operationally energy efficient using designs that are easy to replicate.  The simple fact is we will need many more of them as time goes on.

Cost competitive, energy responsible cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass or from forestry waste like sawdust and wood chips requires a more complex refining process; but it's worth the investment.  Cellulosic ethanol contains more net energy and emits significantly fewer greenhouse gasses than ethanol made from corn.

If we are serious about meeting America's future energy needs in ways that foster economic growth, keep living standards high and protect the environment, we must increase the production of new and diverse forms of alternative fuels.

Together, the Department of Energy and Range Fuels are blending science and technology in order to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.  The biorefinery soon to stand on this site is the result of President Bush's initiatives to expand the use of homegrown alternative fuels, protect the environment, and enhance the nation's energy security.

The first two phases of the Range Fuels project, in which the Department of Energy is playing a cost-sharing role, is projected to process 1000 tons per day of wastewood to produce about 30 million gallons of biofuels and chemicals. As someone who trained to be a chemical engineer, and who later found himself running a chemical company, I can tell you that's an impressive number.

This project, and the other five we are bringing online, is part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative that will change the way America powers its homes, its businesses and our transportation sector.  We selected Range Fuels as one of our partners in this effort because we really believe that they are the cream of the crop.  And so it is a real pleasure for me to be here with you today for the ground breaking.

Thank you.

Location: Soperton, Georgia

Media contact(s): Andy Beck, (202) 586-4940

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