WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) commends Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and 16 other members for their leadership in introducing legislation to reauthorize and fund the most vital energy programs found in the current Farm Bill, which is scheduled to expire in September. AgEC pledges to work with Congressmembers to ensure the legislation serves as a model for a strong Energy Title as the House Agriculture Committee marks up a new Farm Bill. The bill’s original co-sponsors include Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Rep. Donna Christensen (D-V.I.), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Ben Lujan (D-N.M.), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Me.), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Me.), Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.).
“The Farm Bill’s bi-partisan energy title has been a tremendous economic driver for communities throughout rural America, funding renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in every state and unlocking capital markets for the commercialization of advanced biofuels, biopower and bioproducts, expanded wind, and solar as well as improved energy efficiency for farmers and rural businesses across the country,” stated Lloyd Ritter, a founder and co-director of AgEC.
Rep. Kaptur’s bill, entitled the Rural Energy Investment Act (REIA) of 2012, is comprehensive farm energy legislation that would provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture with new resources and authorities to continue and broaden its vital mission of diversifying agricultural energy opportunities for farmers, businesses and rural landowners, saving or creating thousands of new energy employment opportunities.
Specifically, this bill would strengthen and fund the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), as well as simplify the application process. It would provide very strong cost-share funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), the only federal program dedicated to expanding the supply, diversity and economics of producing cellulosic feedstocks for commercial conversion into biofuel, bioproducts and biopower. And it would strengthen both the federal biobased products procurement program and the product labeling program for industrial products made from biological feedstocks. It would also fund the Biorefinery Assistance Program that provides federal loan guarantees for the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial-scale advanced biorefineries, and make refineries producing biochemicals fully eligible for participation in this program for the first time.
Finally, it would reauthorize the Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative, the Forest Biomass for Energy Program, the Community Wood Energy Program, and fund the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, and the Biomass Research and Development Program.
The AgEC is a broad membership-based consortium of organizations and companies representing a broad spectrum of clean, renewable energy, energy efficiency and bioproducts stakeholders. It includes members focused on feedstock production and conversion technologies, rural economic development and diversification, biofuels, products and power, and renewable electricity production, environmental quality, and others. Coalition members are committed to seeing a strong bi-partisan energy title in the 2012 farm bill that builds on the tremendous clean energy accomplishments USDA has already realized and provides resources to USDA at a level that enables them to continue and expand this important mission.