MOSCOW -- Researchers at the University of Idaho and Montana State University will take part in a study looking at ways to turn trees killed by beetles and other insects into a renewable energy source.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a $10 million grant to study the issue. The research partnership includes academics, industry and government officials.

University of Idaho researcher Jay O'Laughlin says the goal of this project is to ultimately create a new industry.

Since 1996, infestations of pine and bark beetles have impacted more than 42 million acres of federal forests. A changing climate is expected to add to the burden facing forests.

While beetle-killed trees seem a reasonable source for biofuel production, experts say the study intends to break down barriers to widespread commercial use.

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