(Washington, D.C.) The Biofuels Center of North Carolina was asked to speak at a hearing on E15 by the Energy & Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. E15 is a blend of 15% ethanol in gasoline. With oil near $100 a barrel and the United States considering its energy future at a time of economic constraint, the committee heard a range of different perspectives on the growth of biofuels in the marketplace. The hearing, entitled - Hitting the Ethanol Blend Wall: Examining the Science on E15 - was called to hear feedback on draft legislative language on mid-level ethanol blends of up to 15% ethanol in gasoline. This year, the EPA provided waivers allowing E15 for motor vehicles built after 2001 under certain conditions.
Steven Burke, the President and CEO of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, was asked to speak on North Carolina’s comprehensive approach to creating a new biofuels industry sector in the state. The Center’s approach is judged a national model for state thinking and development of advanced biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks. Mr. Burke testified that North Carolina is in favor of the EPA’s decision on E15 as a necessary intermediate step towards larger and longer-term national goals. He said, “More time is clearly needed for advanced biofuels technologies to develop. In the interim, increased use of ethanol serves as the first stage foundation required for new biofuels technology, affirms biofuels within consumer and national life, and prepares for large amounts of next generation feedstocks, technology, and facilities.”
In 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly and other state leaders recognized that biofuels offered enormous agricultural, economic, and strategic value to the state over time, and that an entire new sector must as a result be created across the landscape. Following recommendations of North Carolina’s Strategic Plan for Biofuels Leadership, the Legislature created the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, the nation’s only agency working comprehensively over time for all aspects of biofuels development.
A private non-profit corporation funded permanently by the North Carolina General Assembly, the Center is charged with charting North Carolina’s path over years to gain large capacity for alternatives to petroleum-based liquid fuels. The Center assists all parties statewide involved in the science, growing, production, and logistics of biofuels, and in addition addresses the educational, public information, and policy issues of a growing new sector.
The Biofuels Center is based in Oxford on North Carolina’s Biofuels Campus, a partnership project with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Over the next decade, the Campus will take shape as the nation’s only large acreage site for biofuels trial growing, company incubation and partnerships, demonstration facilities, and public education.