Opponents of Farm Bill Energy Programs Introduce Amendments

Now that the Senate has decided to move ahead with the floor debate and votes on the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, more than 280 amendments have been filed. Some would repeal or dramatically weaken current rural bioenergy and renewable energy programs.

As we reported June 12, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on June 7 to proceed to the floor debate and voting on the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240). Since then, the Senate leadership has been working to forge an agreement for how to deal with the more than 280 amendments that have been filed so far. If an agreement can be reached, floor debate could begin as soon as the evening of Monday, June 18.

The following amendments would weaken one or more energy title programs:

  • SA 2226 by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) would strike authorization for the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
  • SA 2268 by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) would bar the provision of loan guarantees by federal agencies. This would affect the Rural Energy for America Program and the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
  • SA 2271 by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) would eliminate the $800 million (over five years) of mandatory funding for energy programs that is currently in the bill.
  • SA 2283 by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard which mandates the production and blending of increasing amounts of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel supply to help reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum, to promote rural economic development, and to help make transportation fuels more environmentally sustainable.
  • SA 2316 by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) would repeal the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
  • SA 2338 by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) would also repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard.

EESI sent a letter to key senators on June 14 urging them to support strong Farm Bill energy programs and to oppose weakening amendments, and joined in other coalition letters to the Hill supporting energy title programs and continuation of the Renewable Fuel Standard.