Release 98-49      
August 20, 1998


Jerry Martin
Gennet Osborn
(916) 322-2990

$2 Million Available for Rice Straw Projects;

ARB Issues Invitation for Grant Requests

        SACRAMENTO The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is now accepting grant requests for the $2 million available for projects that use significant amounts of Sacramento Valley rice straw.  To qualify, all applicants must attend an August 31 workshop and submit final paperwork to the ARB by September 21.

         ARB Chairman John D. Dunlap said, "Promising new uses for rice straw are emerging from entrepreneurs across the nation, and with this program, some of those new businesses will have extra help bringing those uses into commercial reality."

         The public is encouraged to attend a public meeting in December when top-scoring applicants will describe their proposed projects.  The Board is expected to award the grant monies in March 1999.

         About $2 million, which is available for the 1998-99 fiscal year, will be awarded according to criteria approved by the Board last January. Part of that criteria requires that each applicant provide at least 50 percent of the project cost.
        The two-year Rice Straw Demonstration Project Fund was established last year by Senate Bill 318 (Thompson), and the ARB was named administrator. This followed the 1991 Rice Straw Burning Reduction Act that required rice growers in the Sacramento Valley to phase out burning by 2000. The Rice Fund was created to help growers, businesses and others affected by the phase down find promising, commercial uses for rice straw.

        During the last fiscal year, three projects were awarded a total of over $2 million in funding by the ARB.  They included rice straw particle board, livestock feed and development a large-scale straw harvesting and distribution system.

        Approximately 500,000 acres of rice are grown in the Sacramento Valley annually, producing about 1.5 million tons of straw. Only one percent of the unburned straw is currently removed from the fields and used, while the remaining 99 percent is ploughed back into the ground.

        Information about the program and the application for the grants are available on the Internet at: /smp/rice/ricefund/ricefund.htm or by calling (916) 322-7297.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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