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BCAP is in for a Bumpy Ride

We at Biomass Power & Thermal were excited when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcements this week about the four Biomass Crop Assistance Program project areas. But our excitement was tempered when the House voted to defund the program.
By Rona Johnson | June 17, 2011

We at Biomass Power & Thermal were excited when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcements this week about the four Biomass Crop Assistance Program project areas. But our excitement was tempered when the House of Representatives voted to defund the program on June 16. Now it’s up to the Senate to do the right thing and fund the program.

The action by USDA is certainly a step in the right direction in promoting biomass power and thermal as well as biofuels and chemicals. And it should go a long way to convincing biomass project developers, farmers and landowners that the administration is serious about home-grown energy and job creation.

Landowners in the project areas, which cover parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Missouri, will receive financial incentives to grow miscanthus.

Vilsack said the production of miscanthus for energy could potentially create 1,210 jobs in Astabula, Ohio, 750 in Paragould, Ark., 960 in Aurora, Mo., and 980 in Columbia, Mo.

According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services website the unemployment rate there is 7.7 percent. In Missouri the unemployment rate is 8.9 percent, according to figures from the state Department of Economic Development. And in Ohio the unemployment rate is about 8.6 percent, according to the Ohio Labor Market Information website. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that those 4,000 jobs will be welcome in those states.

Now we just have to convince the Senate that the BCAP is worthwhile so they don’t eliminate funding for the program.