September 10, 2008

Growing Biofuels on Old Mine Lands Goal of Project


A team of West Virginia University researchers was expected to announce today that they've received a $550,000 award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a project aimed at turning abandoned mine land into fields that produce switchgrass and other biofuels.

The announcement was expected during the 2008 West Virginia Brownfields Conference in Huntington.

Previously mined land qualifies as brownfields - properties that were previously used for industrial or commercial activity - under the Environmental Protection Agency's brownfields program.

A team from WVU's West Virginia Water Research Institute will produce an inventory of abandoned mine sites in the state that are suitable for redevelopment into biofuel and other alternative energy production sites. One community will be selected for the development of a comprehensive pilot program to showcase a so-called "sustainable energy park."

Curt Peterson, WVU's vice president for research and economic development, said in a prepared statement, "Creation of sustainable energy parks on mine-scarred lands is the kind of strategy that this nation and its best thinkers and leaders must pursue in the drive toward energy independence. We are excited about the EPA announcement and proud of the WVU team that captured this competitive award."

Gov. Joe Manchin said in a prepared statement, "Brownfields reclamation work has resulted in successful reuse of commercial property in our state that has benefited West Virginians. The EPA award will help WVU's researchers identify brownfields sites for growing switchgrass and other renewable biofuels that can help meet our energy needs while making good use of reclaimed mine lands."

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