Bioenergy in Congress: Updates

What is the status of: the farm bill energy programs and the budget supercommittee; the Regulatory Relief Act and air pollution control regulations for boilers fueled by biomass or other fuels; funding for farm energy and conservation programs in 2012; and funding for Department of Energy bioenergy programs in 2012?

Farm bill energy programs and the budget supercommittee: No word yet (as of the morning of November 10) on what the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will recommend to the budget supercommittee. In October, the Committees had proposed to reduce overall spending for agriculture and nutrition programs by $23 billion over the next ten years, with details to follow. Will farm bill energy programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Community Wood Energy, and the Biorefinery Assistance Program be continued? Will critical conservation programs be scaled back? For previously posted information, click here and here.

The Regulatory Relief Act and air pollution control regulations for boilers fueled by biomass and other fuels: On November 3, the Senate voted to end further consideration of a bill, the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 (S. 1786), which included the Senate version of the Regulatory Relief Act (S. 1392). S. 1392 would delay EPA implementation of clean air rules for boilers fueled by biomass and other fuels and require further regulatory negotiations with affected stakeholders. Consequently, the EPA will continue to implement its regulations under existing authorities. For previously posted information, click here.

Funding for farm energy and conservation programs in 2012: On November 3, the Senate passed its version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (H.R. 2112). A House and Senate conference committee is now meeting to reconcile differences. Farm energy and conservation programs are at risk. For previously posted information, click here.

Funding for Energy Department bioenergy programs in 2012: On November 8, the Senate tried, but failed, to begin consideration of a bill, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (H.R. 2354). The bill would fund bioenergy research and development programs (and other energy efficiency and renewable energy programs) in the Department of Energy (DOE). Both the House and Senate versions would sustain current levels of investment in the DOE Office of Science Bioenergy Research Centers ($75 million). However, both would cut investment in the DOE Biomass Program; the Senate bill set a funding level of $180 million (a $30 million cut), compared to the House level of $150 million. For previously posted information on the House version, click here.