Advanced biofuels win major victories on Capitol Hill today

By Ron Kotrba | April 26, 2012

The advanced biofuels industry won two milestone victories today in Washington, D.C. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed an amendment offered by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Dick Lugar, R-Ind., that would restore $800 million in mandatory funding to the Farm Bill energy title.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, told Biorefining Magazine that this was “quite an accomplishment” considering last week the draft bill committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., released essentially included no mandatory funding for energy programs.

As the measure now stands, energy title funding of $800 million for fiscal years 2013-’17, spread across those five years, is as follows:

-9002 Biobased Markets $15 million

-9003 Biorefinery Assistance $216 million

-9006 Biodiesel Education $5 million

-9007 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) $241million

-9008 Biomass Research and Development (BRDI) $130 million

-9011 Biomass Crop Assistance (BCAP) $193 million

When asked why the 180-degree turnaround in Washington regarding bioenergy funding, McAdams attributed the change to the strong lobbying efforts his and many other bioenergy organizations have led in the past weeks. “We’ve heard a lot of bad news recently,” McAdams said, referring to federal funding of bioenergy programs in the fiscally difficult climate in Washington these days. “But today was a good day,” he expressed. “I wish every day could be like today.”

McAdams said the effort could not have been accomplished without all of the groups, trade associations and organizations working together. “It’s a great story,” McAdams said of the unified front the bioenergy industries carried to Capitol Hill.

Also today in Washington, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved funding of the $510 million memorandum of understanding between the U.S. DOE, USDA and the Navy to help establish commercial advanced, drop-in biofuel refineries.

While there’s much work ahead to achieve a full appropriations committee vote for the MOU funding and full floor votes and mirrored legislation in the House of Representatives for both measures, McAdams said these are significant victories because we are starting with the appropriations in the bills rather than trying to add them to legislation later.

McAdams also testified today before the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, detailing successes made in the advanced biofuels sector.