Agronomy Day theme pushes for biofuel use

By Paul Biasco

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn spoke Thursday at a meeting of the Biofuels Task Force on the South Farm during the University’s Agronomy Day.

Quinn was part of the meeting that featured 13 other industry leaders representing different aspects of biofuel development nationally and in Illinois. The theme of Agronomy Day was “Energizing Agriculture” and focused on developing energy from locally grown agriculture.

Quinn emphasized the need for Illinois to push the biofuel industry nationally.

“We are the epicenter of the biofuel industry,” Quinn said.

One of the representatives from the American Lung Association talked about the need for educating the public about the benefits of ethanol. The American Lung Association has been working on educating car dealerships about flexible fuel vehicles to inform customers of possible benefits. They have also been urging gas stations in Illinois that sell ethanol to advertise the alternative fuel on the pumps.

Other members discussed issues including state funding and local grass farming for energy production.

“We need to pass additional laws in Illinois to push for biofuels,” Quinn said. “We need to be prepared in Illinois to supply to the country.”

At the University level, Hans Blaschek of the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research discussed the approval of a bioenergy curriculum as a master’s degree by the Illinois Board of Education. The first course will be held this semester.

Quinn concluded the meeting with references to the first soybean farming in Illinois in 1909 and the anniversary of the event next year.

“We need to do what they did in 1909, have somebody come forward and give (a new biofuel) a try,” Quinn said.