Alexander: Tennessee Can Lead Development of Clean Energy Technology

October 15th, 2008 - Knoxville, Tenn. - U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today at Governor Phil Bredesen’s Clean Energy Summit in Knoxville that clean energy technology is key to addressing two of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century – rising energy demands and cleaning up the environment. He also noted that Tennessee is playing a lead role in both areas with groundbreaking research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the new biorefinery being built in Vonore.

“With work being done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the new biorefinery in Vonore that will produce cellulosic ethanol, Tennessee is becoming critical to solving our country’s energy and environmental problems,” Alexander said. “We must find ways to use less foreign oil and clean up our environment, and part of the solution to these problems will be found in the cleaner technologies discovered right here in Tennessee.”

Yesterday, a partnership between the University of Tennessee (UT) Research Foundation and DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE) broke ground on a new biorefinery at the Niles Ferry Industrial Park in Vonore, Tenn., to produce ethanol from non-edible plants like switchgrass, which could grow all across Tennessee. The facility is expected to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually, and will begin producing by the end of 2009.

“To achieve clean energy independence, we need the help of great scientists like we have in Oak Ridge, so that we can start using less oil and stop sending money to countries that are funding terrorists who want to kill us,” Alexander continued. “As I said in May, we need a new Manhattan Project to help us achieve clean energy independence. This sort of plan would put funding for science and research front and center so that we can find sustainable alternative sources of energy.”

On May 9th in Oak Ridge, Alexander proposed a new Manhattan Project for clean energy independence.

“Instead of ending a war, the goal of the new Manhattan Project will be clean energy independence – so that we can deal with skyrocketing gasoline prices, soaring electricity prices, clean air, climate change, and national security – for our country first, and because other countries have the same urgent needs and therefore will adopt our ideas – for the rest of the world,” Alexander concluded. “We should begin by exploring for more of the oil and natural gas that the United States already has. But to lower gasoline prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must also look for more ways to reduce our use of oil.”

As part of the new Manhattan Project, Alexander outlined 7 grand challenges to help America achieve clean energy independence:
1. Make plug-in electric cars and trucks commonplace.
2. Make carbon capture and storage a reality for coal-burning power plants.
3. Make solar power cost competitive with power from fossil fuels.
4. Safely reprocess and store nuclear waste.
5. Make advanced biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline.
6. Make new buildings green buildings.
7. Provide energy from fusion.

“All of these things are becoming more and more of a reality every day. That’s all the more reason to make sure we are funding enough science to make this a reality,” Alexander said.

Alexander has been a leader in environmental and clean energy technology issues during his time in the Senate. These efforts include:
• Fuel efficiency – Cosponsored amendment that became law as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that increased the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks for the first time in 30 years.
• Low Carbon Fuel Standard – Authored committee-passed amendment to require a gradual decrease in the amount of carbon in transportation fuels to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and decrease oil consumption.
• Clean air – During every two-year Congress since coming to the Senate, has authored bipartisan legislation to clean the air by limiting harmful emissions from coal power plants.
• Solar energy – Presented with “Solar Champion Award” for authoring provisions that became law as part of the Energy Policy Act 2005 that provide a 30 percent investment tax credit for homeowners and businesses that installed solar energy cells. Last month, Congress expanded those solar tax credits and extended them for eight years.