Haslam Supports Switchgrass Program

The Republican candidate for governor says he supports the state’s effort to make switchgrass a competitive alternative to fossil fuel. The state invested some $70 million three years ago toward research, and a small-scale biorefinery in East Tennessee, to work on turning switchgrass into ethanol.

Speaking at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam was asked if he supported the state’s ethanol research. That could make switchgrass a profitable crop for farmers.

“What the ethanol refiners and everybody else has to do is make certain we can make that cost-competitive so it can compete in the market. I think that can happen, and it’s important long-run that we use every source of clean energy and alternative energy that’s home-grown.”

Haslam says such energy is preferable over relying on fuel from overseas.

While he says he’s no longer involved in the daily operation of his family’s Pilot Oil company, Haslam is one of its private owners. Pilot is the country’s largest seller of bio-diesel, and Haslam acknowledged that gives him a quote “vested interest there.”

You can hear the full question and Haslam’s response below:

Regarding Pilot’s statewide ethanol sales, a spokesperson says it’s accurate to call it “one of the largest blenders” of ethanol.

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