Biomass organizations write support letter for bioenergy programs

By Chris Hanson | October 22, 2013

A group of 30 biomass companies and organizations recently wrote to four congressmen supporting mandatory funding for Farm Bill Energy Title programs.

Addressed to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; and Rep. Collin PetersonD-Minn., the letter emphasized how government programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program, Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels and the Community Wood Energy Program, promote local, renewable energy production and foster job creation and retention in economically-distressed, rural areas.

“These farm bill energy title programs are one of the few ways to incentivize or promote renewable energy from biomass,” said Joe Seymour, executive director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, one of the 30 organizations listed within the letter. “There is a small, tax incentive for residential heating equipment, but in terms of commercial, larger scale incentives, both on the fuel and technology side, these farm bill programs are really the only game in town. They’ve been around since 2008 Farm Bill and we saw the extension through 2013, and so we’re finally getting some momentum on getting biomass thermal projects recognized and signed up for these programs.”  

The letter was a response to different direction taken between the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the Farm Bill, Seymour stated. The Senate version included both nutritional assistance programs and mandatory funding for the energy title programs, while the House version focused primarily on agriculture and excluded mandatory funding, he said. The letter, addressed to the selected conferees from both chambers tasked with drafting a compromised version, expressed the importance of mandatory funding for biomass projects. “If a bill comes out of conference that doesn’t have mandatory funding, it’s going to make it very difficult to continue these programs in the future and promote the projects they have gotten installed over the past couple of years,” Seymour said. “If we don’t’ let our representatives and senators know these programs are important to us, they’ll likely be cut or their funding will be reduced.”