Iowa Public Television


Bio-based Energy Takes Center Stage in Farm Bill

posted on September 15, 2006

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Inflation slowed sharply last month as energy prices moderated, brightening prospects for future economic growth. The Labor Department reported Friday that its closely watched Consumer Price Index rose 0.2 percent in August, just half of the previous month's increase. The improvement reflects a big decrease in energy prices, which edged up by just 0.3 percent in August after having surged 10 times that amount in July. The decline in energy prices is bolstering sentiment that inflation pressures are beginning to moderate. And that's good news for consumers -- including the federal government. The Department of Defense is the nation's largest consumer and is expected to purchase $35 billion worth of goods this year. And, thanks to U.S. farm policy, many of the products are made from renewable, bio-based materials.

Bio-based Energy Takes Center Stage in Farm Bill

The 2002 Farm Bill requires all federal agencies to put bio-based products at the top of the list when making purchasing decisions. At the Pentagon this week, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England touted the military's use of bio-based goods.

Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of Defense: "...our strategy also supports our long- term national security interests by protecting and preserving the environment for future generations so they can still enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to the fullest, here in America."

England was joined by Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Democratic Representative Marci Kaptur of Ohio, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana: "Our dependence, and the dollars we spend on foreign oil, embolden these regimes. We must take action now because by the time a sustained energy crisis fully motivates market forces we are likely to be well past the point where we can save ourselves from extensive suffering."

The only exception to the "green" purchasing rule is if the bio-based replacement is not easily available, is unreasonably priced, or fails to meet military specifications.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: "I think we've passed the stage of envisioning the bio economy. The businesses here today and tomorrow are building it. They are proving that we can buy bio and that it is a winning formula for our country and our economy."

Since the buy green program began, the amount of bio-based products purchased by the DoD has nearly doubled to $100 million. This includes the purchase of environmentally friendly paint strippers, floor cleaners and 1.2 million gallons of biodiesel.

Rep. Marci Kaptur, D-Ohio: "The American people know, America's chief strategic vulnerability is our dependence on imported fuels. From some of the most repressive kingdoms and nations in the world that are known human rights violators.

According to the DoD, 1,300 companies sell more than 6,900 bio-based products that meet military specifications.


Tags: agriculture biofuels Congress ethanol government news policy