As first reported in the Tennessean.com, state lawmakers say they may remove funding from a project dedicated to the University of Tennessee that will produce ethanol from switchgrass. This news came about after legislators were informed that the school will be doing business with DuPont (a corn based ethanol producer) and scaling down ethanol production. Cost for the government for these changes would increase the project an additional $11 million through June 30, 2013.
“The state is subsidizing DuPont to do all this research. It’s all they’re doing,” said Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville. “It’s a sad commentary that we were led down this road by the governor, UT and whoever else was involved in it.”
Originally, as part of the 2007-2008 budget, Tennessee’s Gov. Bredesen asked the legislature to approve a plan to study switchgrass for biofuel production as a way to get Tennessee into the ethanol industry and find a way to produce fuel ethanol cheaper than using corn. The plan also called for paying farmers in the region $1.75 million to grow enough switchgrass to produce as much as 5 million gallons of ethanol annually and create a surplus of jobs in the state.