hold the promise of enhancing America's energy security, bringing greater diversity and stability to American agriculture, and promoting opportunities for economic development in rural areas. And because of world events and America's war on terrorism, the demand is growing rapidly for domestic sources of energy and biobased products.
American consumers have felt the pinch of high energy costs. American farmers have been experiencing economic hardships as well, resulting in a devastating exodus to urban centers. Viable economic alternatives and diversity are needed in agriculture to bolster the Nation's independent farm families.
Agriculture can reduce America's reliance on imported fossil fuels and petroleum-based products by producing feedstock for a biobased shift to production of . . .
- Fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel.Electrical power.
- Building materials.
- Numerous other biobased products.
The Sun Grant Research Initiative Act of 2003 provided authorization for this program. Funding for the Sun Grant Initiative was approved by Congress in July, 2005. The National Sun Grant Center cites the full bill, SEC. 778..
Legislative History Authorization
The Authorization language for the Sun Grant Initiative was passed in H.R.2673, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, which amended Title IX of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. It is our understanding that the amendment was introduced on the floor by Senator Bennett (R-UT), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on behalf of Mr. Frist, Senate Majority Leader. The inclusion of this authorization in the omnibus appropriations bill was previously accepted by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and subsequently accepted by the House Agriculture Committee.
Department of Agriculture
A special grant for approximately $600,000 to South Dakota State University has been provided through USDA/CSREES for each of several years. This funding has been shared among the five SGI Centers and has been used for regional planning and development efforts. The Department of Agriculture is currently in discussions regarding which USDA agency will have lead responsibility for the implementation of the authorization language.
Department of Transportation
Funding for the Sun Grant Initiative was included in S. 1072: the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2004. Funding was provided at $3 million a year for each of six years for each of five Centers. We understand that these are "pre-obligated" funds. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has indicated that they expect that this legislation will be taken up again at the beginning of the next Congress with the goal of completing conference and final passage by March of 2005.
S 1072 ES/PP. Sec. 502. Surface transportation research
`(j) BIOBASED TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH- There shall be available from the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) $18,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004 through 2009 equally divided and available to carry out biobased research of national importance at the National Biodiesel Board and at research centers identified in section 9011 of Public Law 107-171.
Department of Energy
Initial start-up funding was provided to two SGI centers in the FY05 Omnibus Appropriation's Bill though an earmark in the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Biomass research account.
$1,500,000 to the South-Eastern and North-Central Sun Grant Centers for purposes as authorized in H.R. 2673, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, which amended Title IX of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, for research, extension, and educational programs on biobased energy technologies and products