Cellulosic Ethanol Focus at Hearing

Cindy Zimmerman

A South Dakota lawmaker is urging Congress to allow cellulosic ethanol derived from woody biomass on federal lands to count towards the Renewable Fuels Standard. Current law prevents biofuels made from biomass that originates on public lands or any biomass from private land that is not ‘planted’ and ‘actively managed’ from being counted toward the RFS.

Herseth SandlinDuring a hearing this week on the RFS, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) talked about the issue and how it is impacting KL Process Design Group of Rapid City, which is using waste wood product from the Black Hills forest to produce cellulosic ethanol.

“They would like to participate in the renewable energy movement the energy bill fosters and they have no interest in turning the Black Hills into a so-called ‘fuel farm’,” Herseth Sandlin told the committee.

She noted that KL’s plant in Upton, Wyoming uses Ponderosa pine waste from the forest floor which is part of forest management thinning to prevent forest fires. “Leaving slash piles to rot or burning them leads to negative environmental effects that far outweigh any benefit gained when waste returns to soil,” she said.

KL Process DesignRandy Kramer, president and co-founder of KL Process Design, also testified before the committee.

“With a Black Hills National Forest supervisor, our research is dedicated to forest stewardship that includes finding better uses for gathered forest and mill waste that otherwise provides added fuel for forest fires,” said Kramer. “Existing timber harvest and thinning programs already allow for the removal of material from national forests.”

He spoke strongly in support of corn ethanol as the only large volume biofuels bridge to the 2022 cellulose ethanol goal. “We must protect this bridge as a strategic component to allow companies like ours to improve cellulose technology,” Kramer said.

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen echoed that sentiment under questioning by committee members. “If you are going to have a second generation ethanol industry, you have to make sure that you have not eviscerated the first generation ethanol industry that is providing the foundation from which those new technologies will be able to flourish.”

Cellulosic, Ethanol, Government, News, RFA