The State of Pennsylvania is decidedly taking a step forward in the cause for biofuels. Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty told members of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee this week that using greater amounts of biofuels derived from corn, soybeans, coal and biomass will reduce Pennsylvania's dependence on foreign oil while growing the economy.
Gov. Renell's defined the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative, a plan aimed to produce one billion gallons of biofuels in the state in 2017, which is the state's estimation on amount that would be imported from the Persian Gulf by that year. The press release states that "Depending on fossil fuels from countries that are politically unstable or controlled by regimes hostile to America's interests is a danger to our national security," said Wolff, noting that the United States imports 60 percent of its oil, with Pennsylvania spending $30 billion annually on liquid fuels produced beyond the state's borders. "It's unacceptable that so much of our economy and way of life is at the mercy of other nations." It is also mentioned the end of oil reserves in Mexico as a reason to expand the use of biofuels.

Regarding the positive or negative net energy of biofuels, McGinty said "Do biofuels deliver more useful energy than is required to produce those fuels in the first place? The answer with respect to biodiesel is a resounding 'Yes,' and it is a less dramatic, but still clear, 'Yes' with respect to ethanol." For every unit of energy put into making biodiesel from soy, some 3.2 units of useful energy are produced. For every unit of energy put in to make ethanol, some 1.34 units of useful energy are produced.

The strong point for Pennsylvania is the existing infrastructure, with an extensive road network, rail and waterway access. Until now, Pennsylvanian farmers imported corn from the Midwest and soy from other sources but it's starting to be profitable to produce them in the state. Nevertheless, the state will be supporting biofuel producers with the money from the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program ($30 million) and the Energy Independence Fund ($850 million).

Biofuel targets are established at a 10 percent blend for gasoline and 20 percent for diesel which can be distributed through existing pumps, hoses and tanks.

[Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture]

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