|By TIM ALEXANDER
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — When the Illinois Senate passed legislation on Feb. 28 creating a state Renewable Fuels Standard, Illinois Corn Growers Assoc. President John Kuhfuss was quick to praise senators for their efforts in promoting research, development and investment in ethanol and biodiesel use.
“I want to thank the Senate for this strong showing of support for ethanol,” said Kuhfuss, a farmer from Mackinaw, Ill. “This bill fulfills several valid objectives like encouraging economic development, generating tax revenue for the state, and curtailing air pollution but it’s really about giving consumers a choice.
“We can continue to depend on high-priced gasoline from the Middle East or diversify and make a greater commitment to ethanol from Illinois’ cornfields.”
Senate Bill 2236, which is also supported by the Illinois Soybean Assoc. and the Illinois Farm Bureau, contains provisions, which would allow $25 million annually over the next two years to fund the Renewable Fuels Development Program and provides incentives for plant expansion and new construction.
In addition, the bill would grant additional funds for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportu-nity for renewable fuels development programs and enhance ethanol research programs from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, West-ern Illinois University, University of Illinois and the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria.
Corn-to-hydrogen fuel cell research would also be funded.
“This legislation creates a market for an additional 80 million gallons of ethanol in Illinois and will stimulate up to 1.2 billion gallons in increased production,” Kuhfuss said. “It will be a catalyst for 24 potential ethanol and biodiesel plants, and may well be the biggest rural economic development initiative passed in Illinois in the last two decades.”
The bill was approved by a 52-3 vote, with key proponents including lead sponsor Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), John Sullivan (D-Rushville), John Jones (R-Chicago) and Todd Sieben (R-Geneseo).
Other supporters of the bill included the Illinois Farmers Union, the AFL-CIO, Laborers International, American Lung Assoc., and Ford Motor Co.
The legislation would establish a minimum of ten percent ethanol by volume to be included in all gasoline used in the state by 2008 with a goal of expanding to 15 percent by 2012. It would reduce the current state sales tax incentive for ethanol from its current 20 percent rate of the state sales tax to ten percent in July and phase it out in 2015.
The bill now goes to the Illinois House for action.
This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.