Readying for Infrastructure Week

There are many promising developments in D.C. that could benefit biomass in short order.
By Carrie Annand | August 02, 2021

“It’s infrastructure week!” has become something of a punchline in Washington, D.C. This is because with some regularity, Congress or the White House announces that they are pursuing massive funding for improvements to roads, bridges, powerlines and other energy necessities, airports and many other aspects of American life that we often take for granted. But all too often, the push for infrastructure improvements is stymied by political arguments over what needs fixing, how much money it will cost, and how it will be paid for.

The Biden Administration is currently working with a bipartisan group of Senators in the hopes of making “Infrastructure Week” a reality, rather than a punchline. Recently, President Biden hosted ten Senators—five from each side of the aisle—in the Oval Office for a meeting to discuss whether the Senate could come to an agreement on an infrastructure package. Afterward, the meeting’s participants announced victoriously that they had, in fact, come to an agreement, but it’s still not clear what—if anything—will happen.

Sen. Manchin, chair of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced a draft infrastructure bill that has a promising section for biomass. The bill allots $400 million for sawmills and other “wood processing facilities” to take on materials cleared from lands at highest risk for wildfire.

If the elusive infrastructure deal does move forward, there are a few bills that could be included that would benefit biomass:

• A bill introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, which would extend the eligibility of new biomass facilities to qualify for the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for 10 years—longer than any past extension. It would also equalize the value of the tax credits across the board for all renewable energy producers. The Clean Energy for America Act has already passed the Senate Finance Committee.

• A bill reintroduced earlier this year from last Congress by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, that would require the U.S. EPA to take action on eRINs and other long outstanding qualifying Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) fuels.

• Incentives for carbon capture deployment that would raise the value of capturing, utilizing and storing carbon for all energy sources.

In addition to keeping an eye on how the infrastructure deal unfolds, we are anxiously awaiting the EPA’s release of its RFS volume targets for 2021 and 2022. The annual renewable volume obligation determines how much of each type of fuel obligated parties will be required to buy, either by blending renewable fuels into gasoline and other fossil fuels or by purchasing credits. The Biden administration is expected to come out with these proposed volume obligations sometime in July.                                                                                                                                           
We are hopeful that these rules will address the EPA’s omission so far of electricity from RFS volumes. In June, a group of six Senators, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a bipartisan letter to the EPA urging the inclusion of electricity as soon as possible.

In summary, there are many promising developments in D.C. that could benefit biomass in short order. We are keeping tabs on them and welcome any companies that would like to learn more to please reach out.

Author: Carrie Annand
Executive Director, Biomass Power Association
[email protected]