Florida congressman promotes ethanol, coal

07/20/07 Mitch E. Perry
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South Florida Democratic Congressman Tim Mahoney also spoke at today’s Farm to Fuel Summit in St. Petersburg this afternoon.

The freshman representative said that after 9/11, Americans learned that relying on foreign countries who are not friends of the U.S. for our energy supplies is not wise.

He said it was time for Americans to stop "talking the talk" and start getting serious about energy independence.

Mahoney said when he got to Congress, he immediately sought a seat on the Agriculture Committee. He said that Florida has the greatest ability to lead the nation in biomass, and it is imperative that Florida be a leader in the production of renewable energy, especially in cellulosic ethanol production.

Mahoney is the lone Florida representative on the Ag Committee. On Thursday night, the panel wrapped up work on the Farm Bill, a huge piece of legislation that Congress works on only every five years.

Mahoney said that the 2007 Farm Bill provides the tools to make Florida the largest producer of cellulosic ethanol in the world. And he said that the new bill redefines the what cellolosic ethanol actually is.

In his state of the Union Speech earlier this year, President Bush outlined his goal that the U.S. achieve energy independence, in part by requiring gasoline processors to blend 35 billion gallons of ethanol in the next 10 years.

Mahoney said that in the Commerce Committee, there is serious discussion that a minimum of 10 percent or 3.5 billion gallons of cellolosic ethanol must be purchased in the next 10 years.

Mahoney also told the audience that he was disappointed in the recent rejection of a new coal plant.

He expects the Farm Bill will be voted on in the House perhaps as early as next week, and then go on to the Senate in the fall.

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