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Posted on  

June 2, 2003

Oklahoma Sorghum Officials Cheer Ethanol Legislation and Urge Governor’s Signature

OKLAHOMA CITY—Officials with both the Oklahoma Sorghum Commission (OSC) and the Oklahoma Grain Sorghum Association (OGSA) hailed the Oklahoma legislature’s passage of important ethanol legislation as an all-around victory for farmers, the state’s rural economy and the environment. The Oklahoma House of Representatives’ vote in favor of the bill, which followed the Oklahoma Senate’s passage early this week, will pave the way for ethanol production in the state by creating an incentive for ethanol processors once the legislation is signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry.

James Wuerflein, a farmer from Garfield County, Okla., who chairs the producer-checkoff-funded OSC, says that in areas near ethanol plants, there is a potential for higher prices paid to farmers as a result of increased market competition for grain sorghum. About 12 percent of the U.S. grain sorghum crop goes into ethanol, and that figure has jumped about 23 percent in the last two years.

“Nationwide, a record number of new ethanol plants were constructed last year and many more are scheduled for completion in 2003. This legislation will now allow Oklahoma to compete with other states for this new development,” adds Wuerflein, noting that the incentive will be in the form of a tax credit that will be offered only after an ethanol plant is in production.
Steve Simpson, president of the membership-based OGSA and also a farmer from Garfield County, Okla., cites the positive economic impacts a single, 40-million gallon ethanol plant would have on a rural Oklahoma community, including: a one-time boost of $142 million to the local economy during construction; 41 full-time jobs at the plant and a total of 694 jobs throughout the entire economy; an average of 5-10 cents added to each bushel of grain; and, a boost to state and local sales tax receipts by an average of $1.2 million.

The Clean Air Act requires that reformulated gasoline contain oxygen from the additives ethanol or methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to reduce emissions of ozone, a major component of smog. However, many states have banned MTBE due to groundwater contamination, resulting in an increased demand for ethanol. National Grain Sorghum Producers (NGSP) and other organizations have been successfully working toward passage of a federal bill that would phase in ethanol and other renewable fuels as a replacement for MTBE. The American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago credits ethanol-blended reformulated gasoline with reducing smog-forming emissions by 25 percent since 1990, and El Paso has improved its air pollution status by replacing part of their fuel supply with an ethanol-blended reformulated gasoline. Based on an announcement earlier this month, Oklahoma City may be the next major city to benefit from ethanol-blended fuel.
“Earlier this month, we were pleased to hear of the first two E85 stations in Oklahoma.,” says NGSP president Kenneth Rose, a producer from Keyes, Okla. Rose explains that E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline transportation fuel.

Wuerflein, Simpson and Rose encourage other Oklahoma sorghum producers to contact Governor Henry and urge him to sign the bill. Governor Henry’s office may be reached by phone at (405) 521-2342 or by fax at (405) 521-3353.
 

 

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