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EPA urged to consider sorghum as biofuel

Reps. Betsy Markey, Henry Cuellar and Ben Ray Lujan sent a letter June 16 to Administrator Lisa Jackson to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to consider grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel under the supplemental rule of the Renewable Fuels Standard outlined in the 2008 farm bill.

While sorghum was not included in the RFS2 final rule, it is now being considered in the supplemental rule, which is vitally important to both grain sorghum producers and biorefineries. According to Markey and her colleagues, it will also create jobs and stimulate rural economies.

Terry Swanson, National Sorghum Producers board and legislative committee member from Walsh, Colo., said producers in the sorghum industry are encouraged that NSP and members of Congress are actively pursuing the inclusion of grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel in the supplemental rule of RFS2.

"I particularly applaud Congresswoman Betsy Markey's efforts," Swanson said, "for asking EPA to be diligent in their considerations of the supplemental rule."

Although NSP and members of Congress would like to see the supplemental rule as quick as possible, the letter stressed the importance for EPA to work attentively and openly on the rule with all affiliated parties, including producers, biorefineries and the sorghum industry in general.

"Her encouragement to EPA to make sure the process is transparent and open will help the producers in her district advance grain sorghum as a critical feedstock for ethanol production," Swanson said. "Furthermore, this designation will enhance the marketability of a crop that has already proven itself as an efficient, sustainable component in the cropping system in south east Colorado."

The wait for EPA's determination of grain sorghum's status as an advanced biofuel feedstock is highly anticipated.

Following the meeting request by Markey, NSP and the USDA were able to meet this week with EPA. The agency has agreed to work with the sorghum industry as slow progress has been made toward the supplemental rule's completion.

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