Butterfield boosts alternative fuel research

Washington, D.C. – Congressman G. K. Butterfield boosted funding for renewable fuel research by $30 million at six historically black land-grant universities, including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

“Our historically black land-grant universities have been left out far too often when it comes to research funding,” Butterfield said. “These deserving institutions can and should be playing a leading role in researching renewable fuels, and this funding will help ensure that it happens.”

During last night’s subcommittee consideration of the House’s Energy Independence bill, Butterfield succeeded in offering an amendment earmarking $5 million each in research funding for North Carolina A&T State University, South Carolina State University, Alcorn State University, Virginia State University, Tuskegee University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The amendment was approved by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee by a 17 to 14 vote along strict party lines.

Butterfield, who serves as the vice chairman of the subcommittee, said the amendment directs the six historically black 1890 Land Grant Universities to create “Centers of Excellence” where the funding would seed research in bio-fuels and cellulosic ethanol as renewable transportation fuels.

“North Carolina is a natural choice because it has such an abundance of biomass and cellulose materials like switch grass, wood chips and bark,” Butterfield said. “America’s belief in technology and innovation has been the foundation for successfully building the world’s most diverse, resilient and vibrant economy. In keeping with that idea, this research provides and opportunity to look at a viable long-term alternative energy source that could come from North Carolina.”

The bill is expected to be considered by full House Energy and Commerce Committee next week before heading to the House Floor for a vote. If approved by the House, the Senate must also pass its version of the bill, and then any differences between the two versions must be reconciled before a final bill can be voted on by both bodies. Once approved, the final bill would then go before President Bush to be signed into law.

Butterfield said he is hopeful that the funding will hold up through the process.