“This piece of legislation, coupled with other work done on a national level, makes the potential for additional off-take of grain sorghum into Texas ethanol plants a reality for Texas growers,” said TGSA President Bill Kubecka, a grain sorghum producer from Palacios. Kubecka added that an increase in grain price usually follows the building of an ethanol plant in any given region.

An economic feasibility study conducted by the State Energy Conservation Office indicates an ethanol plant run on grain sorghum has a high probability of being profitable, said Dale Artho, Chairman of Texas Grain Sorghum Board. Such a plant would generate $1.29 million dollars in additional sales tax revenue, add 30 to 35 jobs to a particular area and generate $41million back into a local economy.

“Ethanol in Texas is a win for everyone; producers have another market for their product, the environment gets a break from pollution and rural communities get a shot in the arm from value added production,” Kubecka said.

The Clean Air Act requires that reformulated gasoline contain oxygen from the additives ethanol or methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to reduce emissions of ozone, a major component of smog. However, many states have banned MTBE due to groundwater contamination, resulting in an increased demand for ethanol.

National Grain Sorghum Producers and other organizations have been successfully working toward passage of a federal bill that would phase in ethanol and other renewable fuels as a replacement for MTBE.

The American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago credits ethanol-blended reformulated gasoline with reducing smog-forming emissions by 25 percent since 1990, and El Paso has improved its air pollution status by replacing part of their fuel supply with an ethanol-blended reformulated gasoline. Based on an announcement earlier this month, Oklahoma City may be the next major city to benefit from ethanol-blended fuel.

“There are currently five feasibility studies that have been conducted, or are in the process of being conducted in Texas,” said Artho. “The most recent feasibility study being completed is by Farmers Coop Elevator in Levelland.”

Texas Grain Sorghum Association encourages everyone to contact the governor’s office (512) 463-2000 and ask him to sign into law SB 275, which enables a 20-cent per gallon incentive on ethanol production starting in the year 2005.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com