Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HJR0130
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Full Text of HJR0130  94th General Assembly



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2     WHEREAS, America's increasing dependence on foreign oil
3 has contributed to rising gasoline prices throughout Illinois
4 and the nation; numerous economic development and
5 environmental benefits result from the use of renewable fuels,
6 including strengthening our agricultural sector by creating
7 new renewable fuels industry related jobs, reducing our
8 dependence on foreign oil, improving our energy security, and
9 reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
10     WHEREAS, Replacing fossil fuels with renewable raw
11 material significantly reduces the consumption of limited
12 energy sources; the hybrid grass miscanthus requires little
13 energy input for infrastructure, fertilizers and pesticides,
14 and growing and processing; use of non-renewable raw materials
15 in miscanthus production and processing is limited to
16 infrastructure and transport; miscanthus requires
17 significantly less fertilizer and pesticide input than other
18 energy crops; miscanthus is a plant that thrives on less water
19 than other crops; targeted below-ground irrigation via pipe
20 systems increases yields; and
21     WHEREAS, Mining fossil fuels entails large-scale
22 interference in the landscape, but establishing energy crops
23 preserves rather than endangers landscapes; miscanthus has the
24 best energy per space ratio of all energy crops; harvested
25 miscanthus can be processed down to the last fibre, leaving no
26 production waste; ashes from combustion can re-enter the cycle
27 as fertilizer; and
28     WHEREAS, Renewable energy sources have a closed carbon
29 cycle: the CO2 released while burning biomass is absorbed by
30 the next crop growing; in contrast to fossil fuels like coal,
31 petroleum, and natural gas, the atmosphere is not polluted by
32 additional greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions; the danger of



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1 water pollution by excessive fertilization is low; compared to
2 food production the pesticide input is extremely low, and
3 miscanthus requires pesticide input only during the first and
4 second year of establishment to keep out competing field
5 plants; so far, no significant pests or diseases have affected
6 miscanthus; and
7     WHEREAS, The energy yield from miscanthus is not high
8 enough to make transportation over long distances economically
9 viable, favoring localized conversion and use at the place of
10 availability and the establishment of local infrastructure;
11 growing miscanthus has some advantages over conventional food
12 agriculture; perennials offer more animal and plant kinds a
13 habitat than a crop like corn could; the soil improves, and as
14 miscanthus requires only a low fertilizer input, the danger of
15 water pollution is low; miscanthus stabilizes soil threatened
16 by erosion; fields planted with miscanthus produce annual
17 yields over decades without harming the natural balance of soil
18 and ground water; and
19     WHEREAS, Growing and converting miscanthus as an energy
20 crop is highly cost-effective; the conversion of biomass to
21 biogenic solid fuels is labor-intensive and creates jobs;
22 growing miscanthus offers farmers an additional foothold; new
23 employment opportunities benefit economically weak areas;
24 miscanthus can be harvested with existing machinery; biomass
25 fuels are easy to store, even for longer periods of time, which
26 ensures year-round availability; up-to-date conversion
27 facilities pose no health risks; appropriate handling will
28 prevent the development of hazardous fungus spores or toxins
29 that is possible in biofuel storage; and
30     WHEREAS, Dry miscanthus stems can be used as a solid fuel;
31 the perennial grass grows from an underground stem-like organ
32 called a rhizome; miscanthus, a crop native to Asia and a
33 relative of sugarcane, drops its leaves in the winter, leaving



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1 behind tall bamboo-like stems that can be harvested in early
2 spring and burned for fuel; grasses such as miscanthus are very
3 clean fuels; nutrients such as nitrogen are transferred to the
4 rhizome and are saved until the next growing season; burning
5 miscanthus produces only as much carbon dioxide as it removes
6 from the air as it grows, that balance means there is no net
7 effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which is not the
8 case with fossil fuels; and
9     WHEREAS, Miscanthus also is a very efficient fuel, because
10 the energy ratio of input to output is less than 0.2; in
11 contrast, the ratios exceed 0.8 for ethanol and biodiesel from
12 canola, which are other plant-derived energy sources; besides
13 being a clean, efficient, and renewable fuel source, miscanthus
14 also is remarkably easy to grow; upon reaching maturity,
15 miscanthus has few needs, as it outgrows weeds, requires little
16 water and minimal fertilizer, and thrives in untilled fields;
17 in untilled fields, various wildlife species make their homes
18 in the plant's leafy canopy and in the surrounding undisturbed
19 soil; Illinois researchers have found that miscanthus grown in
20 the State has greater crop yields than in Europe, where it has
21 been used commercially for years; full-grown plants produce
22 10-30 tons per acre dry weight each year; and
23     WHEREAS, The Illinois miscanthus crop began three years
24 ago, when 400 miscanthus rhizomes were planted at the
25 University of Illinois, and the three 33-by-33 feet miscanthus
26 plots are considered mature; nine different fields across the
27 State are being used to help estimate miscanthus productivity;
28 plots in Champaign and Christian counties each have more than 2
29 acres of miscanthus, and DeKalb, Pike, Pope, Wayne, Fayette,
30 and Mason counties have smaller plots; plots in Champaign
31 County have shown the greatest yearly yields, according to the
32 2004 progress report to the Illinois Council on Food and
33 Agricultural Research, which funded the experiments; and



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1     WHEREAS, The next step is to demonstrate how miscanthus
2 goes from a plant to a power source; existing U.S. power plants
3 could be modified to use miscanthus for fuel, as in Europe;
4 therefore, be it
7 SENATE CONCURRING HEREIN, that we urge the United States
8 Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Department of
9 Agriculture to fund research and make grants available to
10 determine the efficacy of using miscanthus as a power source;
11 and be it further
12     RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
13 delivered to the United States Secretary of Agriculture and to
14 the Illinois Director of Agriculture.