Bush pushes ethanol to replace oil during speech in Maplewood
MAPLEWOOD -- Innovation is more than the name of the street leading to where President Bush spoke Thursday. Innovation can help the country be more competitive globally, including ridding itself of dependence on Middle Eastern oil, Bush said in a...
MAPLEWOOD -- Innovation is more than the name of the street leading to where President Bush spoke Thursday.
Innovation can help the country be more competitive globally, including ridding itself of dependence on Middle Eastern oil, Bush said in a speech at Maplewood's 3M Co. It was one of four speeches he is making across the country following up on his State of the Union message.
A key to breaking away from foreign oil is plant-based ethanol, the president said.
"I'm excited about ethanol," Bush proclaimed to about 800 employees and state and local leaders at 3M's world headquarters.
New technology will open possibilities for new vehicles, Bush said -- including ones powered by fuel cells and gasoline-battery hybrid vehicles. Being in the first state to mandate the use of ethanol, Bush emphasized that fuel in his 39-minute speech.
"We've got to change how we drive," the former oilman said. "We've got to change how our cars are powered. But now we got a chance, with breakthroughs in research and development, new technologies, to make ethanol out of switchgrass or wood products or weeds. And we're close."
Ethanol should be competitive with gasoline nationally in six years, he added, a development that eventually would cut the country's reliance on oil from the volatile Middle East. House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said he hopes Bush's backing will convince other states to join Minnesota in requiring that all gasoline include 20 percent ethanol. Minnesota was the first to require a 10 percent blend, and last year legislators approved doubling the mandate in future years. The state also leads the nation in E85 use. E85 is an 85-percent ethanol, 15-percent gasoline fuel.
"Part of this (ethanol expansion) has to be an attitude change with some of the people who have been resisting up to this point," Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson said.
Corn growers will benefit with increased ethanol use while other kinds of fuel are being developed, he said, adding that in the long run, all agriculture will benefit as more types of plants are used to make ethanol.
Corn growers realize they cannot produce enough to fill the eventual ethanol demand, Hugoson said.
Ethanol was one part of Bush's talk about strengthening the country's global competitiveness.
The president visited 3M's world headquarters because it is an international firm with a reputation for innovation.
The president frequently referred to innovations at 3M, known for such varied developments as the Post-It note and Scotch-brand products.
The company conducted $21 billion of business worldwide last year with nearly 70,000 employees. Bush especially praised 3M for hiring 6,500 researchers to improve existing products and invent new ones.
However, he warned, there are more high-technology jobs than there are Americans to fill them.