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[GreenYes] debris into energy Fla's Leadership the NEW Direction hi BTU Recycles?

Letters: Don't laugh at converting storm debris into energy
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I was taken aback by The Post's editorial poking fun at the potential use of
hurricane debris by being converted into ethanol ("Bumper hurricane crop,"
Sept. 2).
This issue was one of many topics discussed at a two-day alternative fuel
summit that attracted participants from 10 U.S. states and Brazil, representing
the agriculture, university, automotive and fuel production and retail
industries as well as the environmental community. The major focus was on
developing programs to help farmers, who are suffering from economic and natural
disaster setbacks.

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The farm-to-fuel program would enable Florida to reduce its dependency on
foreign oil, prevent agricultural land from being commercially developed and
produce a fuel much more environmentally friendly. The fact that more than 300
people attended is indicative of the widespread belief that Florida can be a
major force in alternative fuel production.
Reporters who covered the summit focused on numerous issues, including
economic development, financing, research and production. The use of invasive
species such as melaleuca trees and hurricane debris as biofuel was one topic,
and an important one. I always have voiced concern about the significant debris
left behind by hurricanes and its potential as fuel for wildfires. Local
governments also are concerned after unprecedented storm seasons because they
have no place to dispose of the debris and do not want to use limited landfill
space for the material. Turning these negatives into positives most certainly
does not negate the concerns of loss of life and property and the homeowner
insurance crisis. But it would be irresponsible to ignore the issues relating
to future fuel production.
I am pleased with The Palm Beach Post's interest in Florida's energy future,
as evidenced by Monday's article "Solving the energy riddle." I urge the
newspaper not to discount the potential for ethanol and other alternative fuel
products in Florida. We need to take advantage of new technologies being
developed right in Florida universities that allow the use of wood and other
cellulose products to help meet the energy demands in this state, the
third-largest in energy consumption. It is critical that Florida become part of the
solution rather than just contribute to the problem.
commissioner of agriculture

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