The "Green Gov" In North Central Florida
Governor Crist got a lesson in sweets--learning how a UF professor wants to turn sugarcane leftovers into fuel for cars.
The governor appropriated $20 million in his budget to build a research demonstration plant creating ethanol from the inedible parts of sugarcane. He hopes the plant can push Florida toward the top in being powered by alternative fuels.
Governor Charlie Crist became the pupil today in learning how to make something useful from what used to be waste. He toured UF's Institute for Food and Agricultural Services. It's where microbiologist Lonnie Ingram developed a bacteria that will turn plant waste into ethanol, a fuel that can power a car.
"This notion of going green is so important to Florida's future and our planet's future," says Governor Crist. "That's why I think it's important for us to shed light on it."
Brazil already uses the sap from sugarcane to create ethanol. But Dr. Ingram received the honor of having the five-millionth American patent ever issued because he found a way to use the leftovers.
"We feel the biggest opportunity to provide ethanol lies in the cellulose biomass," says Dr. Ingram. "We are arguably the top state in the nation in terms of our production."
Crist pointed to public private partnerships in other parts of the state in non-fossil energy sources like solar, nuclear and wind. He says he's already excited to be a part of it with his own transportation.
"The car I'm driving around in Tallahassee is powered by ethanol," says Crist. "I understand that's symbolic but symbols are important too."
Crist dismissed environmental concerns of what an ethanol plant may do saying, in effect, 'trust me.' He has already shut down plans for two coal plants because of the danger they may pose to the environment.
Negotiations are underway with a private company about where the ethanol plant will be placed but the announcement should be soon.
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV20 News
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