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Weyerhaeuser to Grow Grass for Ethanol

Cathy Duchamp
04/13/2007

We all know Weyerhaeuser as a tree company. But the timber giant plans to start growing grass, that may eventually be turned into ethanol. Correspondent Cathy Duchamp explains.

TRANSCRIPT

WEYERHAEUSER WILL WORK WITH CHEVRON TO RESEARCH HOW TO PRODUCE ETHANOL NOT FROM CORN, BUT FROM OTHER PLANTS. YOU'D THINK FOR A TIMBER COMPANY, THAT'D MEAN GROUND UP TREE STUMPS, BRANCHES AND BARK. NOT SO SAYS WEYERHAEUSER SPOKESMAN BRUCE AMUNDSON.

AMUNDSON: "What we're looking at here though is actually increasing the value of our timberlands by planting another crop there that could co-exist with the trees that could be harvested on an annual basis that has the properties that Chevron would need to convert into fuel."

HE'S TALKING ABOUT GRASS. SAW GRASS: A TYPE OF LONG, WOODY GRASS YOU MIGHT SEE IN A FIELD. WEYERHAEUSER EVEN WANTS TO SEE IF IT CAN PRODUCE ETHANOL FROM RECYCLED PAPER OR PIZZA BOXES.

NEWS THAT WEYERHAEUSER WANTS TO RESEARCH ALTERNATIVE FUELS IS ENCOURAGING TO DAVE SJODING. HE RESEARCHES BIO-ENERGY FOR WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY. SJODING'S HOPES THE WEYERHAEUSER-CHEVRON DEAL HELPS WASHINGTON BUILD A HOME-GROWN BIO-FUEL INDUSTRY.

SJODING: "Our state loses about 11, 11.5 billion dollars outward bound with what we buy from petroleum, and to keep those dollars in-state is really a smart economic move."

SMART, BUT WILL WEYERHAEUSER GROW ITS GRASS HERE IN THE NORTHWEST? PROBABLY NOT, SAYS AMUNDSON.

AMUNDSON: "This most likely would occur in the South. The nature of forestry down there makes it a little more conducive to this type of application than up here."

BUT AMUNDSON SAYS THE RESEARCH WILL BE DONE AT WEYERHAEUSER HEADQUARTERS IN FEDERAL WAY WASHINGTON.

I'M CATHY DUCHAMP REPORTING.

© Copyright 2007, KUOW

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