Hemp is no Chia Pet
by Ralph B. Davis
I must take great exception to my friend and fellow Republican, Sen. Chris Girdler. His comments on industrial hemp, comparing it to a Chia Pet, were not only unconstructive, but also demonstrate an extremely uninformed position on this issue. They sought to diminish the economic benefits of industrial hemp as a biomass feedstock for the production of alternative energy and the manufacturing of a wide variety of goods ranging from textiles to automobile parts to transportation fuel.
According to the EKU Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies, a single commercial bio-refinery with a capacity of 50 million gallons of biodiesel per year is estimated to have a total economic impact of $480 million, with about 2,000 jobs created. Drop-in fuels, such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, along with chemical feedstock that would allow for the production of bio-plastics, are viable applications of industrial hemp that can be developed right here in Kentucky.
Our company is currently conducting tests on the viability of industrial hemp for blending with coal. This potentially could strengthen Kentucky coal competiveness and boost job creation in the coal mining industry, especially in the Fifth District. It is hoped all public officials would get on board for job creation because of the impact on rural communities.
Our company would utilize industrial hemp as a feedstock as part of our energy production, once restrictions are removed. We would hope to work with Sen. Girdler in his capacity as both an elected official and as a representative for Congressman Rogers’ office to move projects forward in the Fifth District and throughout southeastern Kentucky.
I personally contacted Sen. Girdler to provide him an opportunity to discuss this issue to better understand the position of our company, the business community and farmers; however, I have yet to hear from him on that invitation. The offer stands at any time, Senator.
CEO, Patriot Bioenergy Corporation
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