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Obama Warms Me Up With Biofuel Talk

192 cellulosic ethanol plants would rev up the rural economy

After endorsing his candidacy in October (an act that cost me at least one reader who called and canceled his subscription), I’ve been cool toward President Barack Obama.


In his first 100 days, President Obama didn’t seem to do anything that directly helps the kind of agriculture that involves most people in the Dakotas.


But I might warm up to him now that he has announced steps to rev up biofuels.


Full development of cellulosic biofuels could result in building 192 more ethanol plants from Kansas to North Dakota at a cost of about $34 billion, according to a study earlier this year by North Dakota State University economists.


The plants in the nation’s “biomass belt” would pump $10 billion into rural communities annually, employ 15,000 workers and support many thousands of additional jobs in feedstock harvest and transportation, according to the report.


North Dakota alone could see construction of 16 plants. That many would be needed to process the projected biomass production in the state. The plants would add $800 million per year to North Dakota’s economy, an amount that would exceed coal’s contribution, according to the report


“An emerging biofuels industry could offer new jobs that would help to support rural communities and farm households and provide the kind of economic stimulus many agriculturally dependent areas have been seeking,” the study’s authors say.


To read the report, see


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