Perry Names A&M System to Lead Statewide Effort

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“The Texas A&M University System has been selected by Governor Perry to spearhead an important, statewide bioenergy effort,” said John D. White, chairman of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. “The A&M System will lead the Texas effort in pursuing one of two bioenergy research centers the U.S. Department of Energy announced earlier this month. The Department will spend $250 million to establish and operate these centers.”

The new centers will accelerate basic research and development of ethanol and other biofuels, White said. “President Bush and Governor Perry are strongly committed to helping the state and nation develop alternative energy sources in the bioenergy sector. This is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to work together to bring emerging technologies and related industries and jobs to Texas. The A&M System will collaborate with the many, great universities across our state to make a center in Texas a reality.”

White made the announcement yesterday at a symposium, “The Energy Policy Act of 2005: One Year Later, a Look to the Future,” at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University. Approximately 200 key energy leaders from government, industry and academia gathered to discuss the country’s energy challenges, and the impacts and implementation of the landmark legislation. The symposium was hosted by The Texas A&M University System.

Featured speaker David Garman, U.S. Department of Energy undersecretary, said, “The president has called on us to end our oil addiction, and it’s timely that we have a national discussion as well as local discussions such as this one. Garman said that while energy “is the lifeblood of our economy and the foundation of our quality of life and economic well-being,” our current energy systems “are not sustainable. We cannot keep generating, moving and using energy in the future as we have in the past, because of the high-demand, high-price situation, global geopolitical realities and the challenge posed by greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

Featured speaker U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-author of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, said the bill was designed from the beginning to be comprehensive. “If you can burn it or ferment it, it’s in the bill,” he said. Since the Act was passed last year, Barton noted several results, including 27 new ethanol plants under construction that have produced 500 million gallons; 25 new nuclear reactors announced for consideration that, if built, would provide 25,000 megawatts of electricity; 2 million barrels of refinery capacity and 120 new coal-fired power plants in the United States; 15 new efficiency standards for appliances; and an explosion of wind power.

Featured speaker U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, member of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, said, “I believe our nation should approach the implementation of a long-term plan for energy security and stability with the intensity of the Manhattan Project during World War II and putting a man on the moon in the 1960s. When it comes to energy policy and world supply,” Edwards said, “we should hope for the best and plan for the worst. The bottom line is that Congress, the administration and the American people need to pursue strong energy research and programs, both on the production and the conservation sides. I believe we need to push an aggressive public-private partnership in pursuing alternative energy resources and conservation.”

Elsa Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences and director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, said, “Our ability to develop alternative fuels depends on Texas agricultural products, be that sorghum, cottonseed oil, or even cattle manure. We are conducting research around the state which employs the latest technologies and utilizes cutting-edge science to maximize the production of these potential biofuels with the goal of positioning Texas as the 21st century leader of this bioenergy revolution.”

G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering and director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, said, “The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was a landmark piece of legislation. We hope that by bringing the key national energy leaders together on our campus to discuss the energy future, we engage further dialogue among our faculty and researchers to ensure we are aligned with the nation’s energy engineering needs of the future.”

In July, the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station—the A&M System’s two premier research agencies in agriculture and engineering—joined forces to hasten the bioenergy revolution by forming the Texas A&M Agriculture and Engineering BioEnergy Alliance. The A&M System has the scientific expertise in engineering and agriculture to become a national leader in the development of clean, renewable bioenergy—when cars run on some refined form of grease, garbage or grain—or scores of other plant and animal products.

During the symposium, panel discussions featured leaders from Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Shell, TXU and PNM Resources, and other national and state organizations.

Following the symposium is a one-day workshop this morning for A&M System faculty, staff and researchers to address several components of the energy picture in which the A&M System has particular capabilities. James Decker, principal deputy director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science began the workshop with a talk on the department’s science program to secure the energy future of the United States.

About The Texas A&M University System

The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. Through a statewide network of nine universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 101,000 students and makes more than 15 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research brings in $600 million every year and helps drive the state’s economy.