14 Juni 2005

Federal Bill Addresses Bioenergy, Cellulosic biofuels

Washington DC – U.S. Senators Norm Coleman (R-Minn) Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) all teamed up to introduce the National Security and Bioenergy Investment Act of 2005 (S. 1210). If passed, the legislation will expand research and development of biomass energy and biobased products, establish the position of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Energy and Biobased Products at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and provide incentives to businesses producing biofuels.

The bill also establishes an innovative incentive program to deliver the first one billion gallons of annual cellulosic biofuels production by rewarding private investment to encourage more efficient production of renewable fuels, which should translate into fuels becoming cheaper over time.

In addition, the bill establishes a UDSA program to assist small biobased businesses with marketing, certification and performance testing of biobased products such as hydraulic oil made from soybeans and plastics made from corn. The bill also expands a provision passed in the 2002 Farm Bill that requires the federal government to greatly increase usage of renewable products during procurement of materials.

This bill will also update the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 by developing an abundant production of biobased fuels at prices competitive with fossil fuels; a broad range of biobased products as substitutes for petroleum-based products; and a diverse and sustainable domestic supply of biomass feedstocks.

Senator Coleman also announced that he has cosponsored a bipartisan bill to extend the biodiesel tax credit he coauthored last Congress, and is helping lead efforts to pass an 8 billion gallon renewable fuels standard as part of the Energy Bill, which promises to more than double current ethanol use in America.

Coleman, who is the founder and co-chairman of the Senate’s bipartisan Biofuels Caucus, held a renewable fuels summit in Marshall earlier this year. One key message Coleman brought back to Washington is the need to provide greater certainty through longer extensions of the biodiesel tax credit. The biodiesel tax credit, first approved by Congress last year, helped to jumpstart this industry and triggered the Minnesota state two percent requirement, the first and only state to enact this biodiesel standard. This legislation provides certainty to biodiesel plants in Albert Lea, Brewster, and Redwood Falls, as well as future plants expected to come on line.

“The need to fully harness the power of biomass in our technologically advanced society is paramount. We also must place greater emphasis on the development of commercially viable cellulosic ethanol,” Sen Lugar said.

As former chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Lugar co-authored “The New Petroleum” in Foreign Affairs with former CIA Director James Woolsey extolling the need to accelerate the use of ethanol, especially that derived from cellulose, in a time of relatively low fuel prices. He authored and passed the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, which remains the nation’s premier legislation guiding renewable fuels research. Lugar also has co-authored and supported legislation to dramatically increase the use of renewable fuels in all U.S. vehicles.

Source: Renewable energy access, June 13, 2005.

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