The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Bill aims to boost biofuel industry

The Wisconsin Special Committee on Domestic Biofuels voted to send a bill to the full Legislature later this year that could lead to a stronger biofuel industry in the state.

The bill includes a tax credit to help gas stations pay to install pumps capable of dispensing multiple blends of ethanol and gasoline, would promote the use of flex-fuel vehicles, give financial assistance to biofuel facilities to install biomass boilers and assess available biomass opportunity for bio power generation, according to a March 12 Wisconsin AG Connection article.

The Committee on Domestic Biofuels, a non-partisan group of legislators, citizens and industry experts, formed last spring to study the controversial issues surrounding biofuels and to determine the best course of action for the state in the areas of biofuel research, development and consumer use.

Matt Pagel, legislative director for Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls), one of the drivers behind the committee, said though it will still be a while before the bill goes before the general Legislature, this is the beginning step for the state to make advances in the biofuel industry and to keep up with federal advances in renewable energy.

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“We’re trying to get us as forward thinking as possible,” he said. “We’re trying to mirror and keep up with what the feds are doing.”

Pagel said the committee is working to create clean fuels, create jobs and “home-grown” energy, as well as grow the economy.

Pagel said there are many different types of biofuels, but ethanol is the primary biofuel in Wisconsin.

“People see it every day,” he said.

Biofuel uses biomass to produce transportation fuels. Ethanol converts the starch in grains to sugar and then to alcohol, according to the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance. Ethanol use in the state was up 34.6 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the 2008 Wisconsin Energy Statistics.

While there are already federal standards in place regulating biofuels, Pagel said one of the reasons for the committee was to research biofuels so there can be standards on the fuels. Pagel said this is especially for mass production or for companies that would be using biofuels.

“There’s got to be a some kind of feeling of standards to these biofuels,” he said.

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Bill aims to boost biofuel industry