Indiana Lt. Gov. Presents Inaugural Paul Dana Biofuels Awards

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

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Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman honored the first three recipients of the Paul Dana Leadership in Biofuels Awards on Aug. 28 in a ceremony at the Indiana State House.

The award, announced during 90th Indianapolis 500 activities in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was named in memory of Indy Racing League IndyCar Series driver and biofuels advocate Paul Dana.

The recipients of the 2006 Paul Dana Leadership in Biofuels Award are Jon Lantz, vice president of supply and marketing for Countrymark Coop; Dr. Mike Ladisch, a professor at Purdue University who directs the school's laboratory of renewable resources engineering; and Kellie Walsh, executive director of the Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance.

Dana, an IndyCar Series driver killed in a racing accident in March at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was a strong supporter of Indiana's biofuels industry, which is expanding rapidly and assuming a leadership role among all states. At the time of his death, Dana was working with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture on several biofuels initiatives and promotions.

Dana's mother, Mary, wife, Tonya, brother, Greg and sister-in-law, Jill, attended the ceremony.

"Paul Dana was a man who understood the incredible upside to the development and use of biofuels," said Skillman, who also serves as Indiana's secretary of agriculture and rural development. "He could see the many benefits biofuels offer to our nation, to our environment and to our farmers. He used his position and energy to make great strides in this area. The three individuals we honor today are examples of the dedication and vision that marked Paul Dana's life and legacy."

Lantz is part of a team at Countrymark Coop that is a nationwide leader in getting biodiesel to users. More than 80 percent of the biodiesel in Indiana moves through Countrymark.

Ladisch is a leader in researching cellulosic ethanol and is helping Indiana lead the way to the next generation of ethanol technology, while Walsh has been instrumental in getting many E85 public pumps installed across the state.

"Because I knew Paul and his commitment to this cause, it (the award) is very special to me," Walsh said. "I looked to Paul as a leader and someone who opened my eyes. The award will have a prominent place in my office, and I will look at it daily for inspiration."

Dana was instrumental in convincing IndyCar Series officials to commit to using ethanol. This year the IRL is running a 90 percent methanol, 10 percent ethanol fuel blend in its cars. In 2007, the series switches to a 100-percent ethanol fuel.

Indiana is quickly becoming a leader in the nation's biofuels industry. In May 2005, the state had one ethanol plant. Today there are twelve additional ethanol plants and three biodiesel plants in some phase of development or production. These facilities will create 675 new jobs for Indiana workers, pump at least $21.5 billion into the state's rural economies and lead to more than $1.67 billion in capital investment.

"Paul connected the innovation of the Ethanol industry with the notoriety of the Indy Racing League, and he brought biofuels to the front page," Skillman said. "Indiana has assumed a proactive, leadership role in America's struggle for energy independence, and Paul Dana played a very large part in that."

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