U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar applauds USDA first loan guarantee for commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol to Range Fuels

WASHINGTON, D.C. , January 22, 2009 (press release) – U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar applauded the announcement that the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the first loan guarantee for commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol.

“We have no time to lose in our mission to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Lugar said. “The science exists to make biofuels from diverse feedstocks such as specialty energy crops, municipal waste and residue from agriculture and forestry. These new technologies need a helping hand to demonstrate they are viable and to bring down their costs. Federal loan guarantees can be an effective and fiscally responsible way for the government to help.”

“In particular, I congratulate the USDA for acting swiftly to work with our farmers and foresters who are eager to do their part for a more secure America. I am hopeful that the Department of Energy follows suit in accelerating the loan guarantee program authorized more than three years ago, which would support a wide array of clean energy technologies.”

The USDA loan guarantee program, part of the Biorefinery Assistance Program, was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Unlike direct loans, loan guarantees back commercial loans by guaranteeing repayment based on the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Over the past year, Lugar has visited several Indiana facilities on the cutting edge of new biofuels research. At the Lugar Center for Renewable Energy at IUPUI, he visited with scientists working to convert biomass directly into gasoline and with Dr. Mark Goebl who is developing yeasts to break down cellulosic materials. Last October Lugar visited Purdue’s Energy Center at Discovery Park where he joined Dr. Nancy Ho, Dr. Michael Ladisch and other researchers working to develop commercially-deployable advanced biofuels technologies.

In 1999, Lugar joined with former CIA Director Jim Woolsey in authoring “The New Petroleum,” which was published in Foreign Affairs magazine. Lugar and Woolsey pointed to the national security imperative to reduce foreign oil dependence by production of domestic cellulosic ethanol made form diverse feedstocks. He subsequently authored the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, which has provided federal assistance to research advanced biofuels.

For more than a decade, Lugar has stressed the strategic importance of energy security and the economic and security risks of dependence on oil. His legislative efforts promote sustainable energy production and use, incentives for renewable fuels like cellulosic ethanol and E85, increased fuel economy in cars, and clean coal.

The Lugar Energy Initiative at http://lugar.senate.gov/energy highlights not only the repercussions of America's dangerous dependence on imported oil, but also provides information on energy legislation introduced by Lugar, commentary by outside experts and information on alternative and renewable energy sources.

Range Fuels Inc., in Soperton, Georgia received this loan guarantee.

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