Alexander, Frist Secure Legislation To Establish UT As One Of Five National Sun Grant Centers

Posted on November 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that an amendment creating university-based research, extension and educational programs for biobased energy technologies was included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Agriculture Appropriations Bill late Wednesday. The legislation would benefit the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville by establishing UT as one of five regional centers of excellence. "The country must examine alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependence and reliance on imported oil. It is my belief that bioenergy resources can complement petroleum energy resources while also providing alternative income sources for our American farmers," said Frist. "Today's inclusion of the Sun Grant Initiative to the agriculture appropriations bill will provide leadership in exploring these exciting new energy alternatives. The University of Tennessee has been successfully researching alternative bioenergy sources for many years and will be a vital resource to the country as a center of excellence." "I am proud to support the University of Tennessee as it works with other universities to address two important challenges facing America: the availability of domestic energy sources and the increasing pressure on farmers and farm prices," Alexander said. "The Sun Grant Initiative would move our nation toward greater energy independence, as well as creating a significant new market for farmers in Tennessee and across the nation." The legislation, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent, would establish five centers of excellence across the United States at our Land Grant Institutions to carry out programs of research, extension, and educational programs in support of biobased energy. The funding authorized in the amendment would be made available beginning in FY 2005 to the five centers to address our national energy security needs through the development of biobased energy technologies and products. Specifically, it would authorize $25 million to carry out this initiative beginning in FY 2005, increasing to $75 million in FY 2007. The Sun Grant Initiative would improve efforts toward biobased energy sources by enhancing national energy security through the development, distribution and implementation of biobased energy technologies and the promotion of biobased energy technologies in agricultural production. It would also coordinate research efforts among the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy and the land-grant colleges and universities. UT would serve as the southeastern sun grant center of excellence, serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Other centers would include South Dakota State University, Oklahoma State University, Oregon State University, and Cornell University. The centers would be responsible for coordinating research on biobased energy technologies and awarding competitive grants to land-grant colleges and universities in their region.