E&E: Rural energy efforts run low on fuel as farm bill expires

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Chuck Bushman Farm flipped the switch earlier this year on 360 solar panels spread across its chicken barn in Castalia, Iowa. (more…)

115 Diverse Groups Join Call on Congress to Renew Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs

Monday, April 29th, 2013

April 29, 2013 – Today, 115 diverse groups from around the country sent a joint letter to Congress calling for renewal of the clean energy programs in the Farm Bill. Congress Agricultural Committees are working on their third attempt to renew the Farm Bill. (more…)

A Fighting Chance for Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs

Friday, October 5th, 2012

October 5, 2012 – With Congress adjourned until after November elections, the existing Farm Bill has (temporarily) lapsed, along with nearly all Energy Title programs. The Farm Bill’s successful Energy Title has a fighting chance of survival with support in both parties and both chambers. (more…)

Senate Ag Committee Approves Mandatory Funding of Core Energy Programs

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

ELPC Commends Senate Agriculture Committee Support of Homegrown Energy

WASHINGTON – The Senate Agriculture Committee took an important step to support America’s farmers, renewable homegrown energy, rural development and national security by funding core energy programs through a Farm Bill amendment passed today.

“We commend Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the bipartisan group of 11 Senators who supported a bipartisan amendment supporting mandatory funding for programs that reduce dependence on polluting fossil fuels and help farmers cut energy costs and produce innovative renewable energy for America,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“The state of the economy and our continuing energy challenges underscore the need for programs like the REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) and  BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program) which generate rural development and provide a safety net to farmers,” Olsen said.

“We thank the energy title supporters, Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for their support of an Energy Title amendment that provides mandatory funding of these core energy programs,” Olsen added.

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The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.

110 Groups Ask Congress to Renew and Fund Energy Title in 2012 Farm Bill

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Broad Support for Homegrown Clean Energy Shown in National Letter

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 100 diverse groups representing agriculture, energy, rural development and conservation called on Congress today to renew and fund core energy programs in the Farm Bill that push forward clean, homegrown energy. These programs advance energy efficiency, wind, solar, new energy crops, biomass energy and biobased products.

In a joint letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, signers noted, “These important and growing industries all benefit agriculture and forestry and are poised to make huge contributions to our economic, environmental and national security in the coming years, provided that we maintain stable policies that support clean energy.”

The energy programs are administered by the USDA and have made a number of accomplishments since the first Energy Title was created in the 2002 Farm Bill:

* The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has supported nearly 8,000 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the nation in varying agricultural sectors.

* The Biomass Crop Assistance Program has assisted farmers in developing homegrown energy crops that support farms and supply needed energy sources

* Biofuel advancements have accelerated through support from the Biorefinery Assistance Program.

“This letter arrives at the Agriculture Committees as rising gasoline prices remind America that our long-term energy challenges to our nation’s well-being require long-term commitment,” said Andy Olsen, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate. “Polls show the American people believe the Farm Bill should support clean energy and we know Congress can pass a Farm Bill that reflects the will of the American people.”

Download the letter.

 

Lugar-Stutzman Farm Bill Proposal Maintains Energy Investments

Friday, October 7th, 2011

(October 7) Earlier this week, Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Indiana Republican Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd) introduced Farm Bill reauthorization legislation, the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act (REFRESH).  It contains significant energy investments while assertedly saving taxpayers more than $40 billion over its five year life.  In particular, REFRESH includes key components of the existing Farm Bill Energy Title, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance Programs (BCAP).

(ALERT: While REFRESH is a positive step in the longer term, an immediate priority is next year’s budget. Please add your voice now to those opposing unfair cuts to REAP and BCAP. Time is of the essence – Congress may take further action very soon. Thank you.)

REFRESH provides nearly $1.3 billion in mandatory appropriations for five different clean energy programs with significant additional discretionary funding authorizations.  In particular, REFRESH includes annual funding of $70 million for the REAP program and an additional $80 million annually in discretionary funds.  The legislation also extends REAP to assist our nation’s rural schools with energy efficiency programs.

The legislation also supports the development of energy crops with the BCAP program.  REFRESH proposes to fund BCAP at $55 million dollars a year, with an additional $150 million a year in discretionary funding, while working to improve the program in several important respects. REFRESH includes complementary loan guarantee financing for biorefineries by continuing the Biorefinery Assistance Program for two more years.

REFRESH also adds a new Rural Energy Savings Program for rural electric cooperatives and others to help their customers save energy and money. REFRESH also extends the Biobased markets program.

Without reserving comment on the merits of the entire proposal, we applaud Senator Lugar and Representative Stutzman for recognizing that America’s the great potential for renewable energy from the heartland.  REFRESH affirms the value of energy for rural America, and the win-win of clean energy for rural economic development, energy security and environmental quality.

Proposed REFRESH 2013-2017 Farm Bill Energy Title Funding level
REFRESH Energy Title Programs Total Funding (millions) Discretionary Funding (millions)
REAP $350 $450
Biomass Crop Assistance $275 $750
Biobased Markets $25 $15
Biorefinery Assistance 2013: $100 

2014-15: $80

2016-17: $0

$0
Rural Energy Savings Program $350 $400