Make Wisconsin a Biobelt leader
A Wisconsin State Journal editorial
While critics continue to attack ethanol and other biofuels, Wisconsin should be thankful Gov. Jim Doyle is proceeding full speed ahead to make the state a leader in biofuel development. The latest advancement was last week's announcement that Wisconsin is joining 11 states to form an alliance to promote growth in the biofuels industry.
The North Central Bio Economy Consortium is to coordinate programs and research through the member states' agriculture departments and universities. The aim is to foster a Midwest Biobelt, which will be the heart of the nation's efforts to develop homegrown, renewable fuels that are better for the economy, the environment and national security than imported petroleum-based fuels.
Biofuels are derived from recently living organisms or their byproducts. Ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from crops such as corn, is an example. So is biodiesel, made from soybeans, animal fat or discarded restaurant grease. Biofuels are not magic solutions to America's energy problems. They carry their own set of complications, which detractors have seized upon. But naysayers neglect the bottom line when biofuels are compared to the petroleum-based fuels.
Does America want to continue depending on declining supplies of imported petroleum, which contributes to global warming? Or does America want to develop fuels from homegrown, renewable sources that contribute far less to global warming and that create jobs here security? Wisconsin ought to be in the forefront of biofuel development. The state ranks seventh among states in the production of corn, an ethanol source. But more important, it is rich in wood resources, which hold promise to be even more efficient.
And it is home to UW-Madison, an international leader in the bioresearch. Wisconsin now lags far behind Iowa, Illinois and a handful of other states in ethanol production. But the state's sixth ethanol plant opened last month in Milton. A state-of-the-art biodiesel plant opened this month in DeForest. Wisconsin's entry into the Bio Economy Consortium adds to the momentum. Policy makers, researchers and industry executives should be encouraged to continue the investment.Permalink + Share This