The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Ford B. West Wednesday joined Reps. John Peterson (R-Pa.), Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Charlie Melancon (D-La.) in announcing the introduction of the National Environment and Energy Development (NEED) Act.

"If the legislation becomes law, it would expand U.S. supplies of natural gas and that would be of great value to U.S. fertilizer companies, the farmers they serve and consumers who rely on us to produce a safe and abundant supply of food, feed, fuel and fiber," said West. "It is a 'win-win' for our nation's economy and for the environment-by bringing critically-needed natural gas supply to U.S. consumers, and at the same time directing the revenue from the natural gas royalties to states for environmental restoration."

The NEED Act lifts congressional prohibition on domestic production of natural gas and dedicates tens of billions of dollars in the royalties collected to several nationally-recognized environmental projects. Specifically, monies would go toward renewable energy and carbon sequestration research; environmental restoration of the Great Lakes, Chesapeake and San Francisco Bays, Florida Everglades and Colorado River Basin; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Program. The bill will also distribute a significant percentage of royalties collected to participating states and the federal treasury.

"The U.S. fertilizer industry has been the 'poster child' for our nation's natural gas crisis-artificially created by government control over the supply and demand for natural gas," said West. "We are supportive of measures to increase natural gas supplies and thank Reps. Peterson and Abercrombie for their leadership in crafting and introducing this important piece of legislation."

The fertilizer industry relies upon natural gas as the feedstock for the production of nitrogen fertilizer, and natural gas represents 70 percent to 90 percent of the cost of production on one ton of anhydrous ammonia-the building block for most other forms of commercial nitrogen plant nutrients, as well as some finished phosphate fertilizers.

The U.S. fertilizer industry has permanently closed 25 nitrogen manufacturing facilities in the past six years, representing approximately 42 percent of our nitrogen manufacturing capacity. As a result, more than one-half of the nitrogen fertilizer used today by U.S. farmers comes from imported sources.

Also participating in today's press conference were representatives from the American Chemistry Council, the National Community Action Foundation and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry.