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.

Mandatory Funding of Clean, Homegrown Energy Absent From Farm Bill Proposal

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Senate Agriculture Committee released draft Farm Bill proposal on Friday, April 20, that fails to provide any mandatory funding for core clean energy programs that help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs, create jobs and generate homegrown clean energy. Members are set to begin debate on Wednesday.

The Senate Agriculture Committee draft would inflict steep cuts to programs, including REAP (Rural Energy for America Program), BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program), and Biorefinery Assistance.

These programs have pushed innovative energy development and provide a safety net for farmers. (Click here to learn about the accomplishments of the 2002 and 2008 Energy Title.)

Without mandatory funding for these programs, they will wither, rolling back advances in clean, homegrown energy and placing rural jobs in peril. Contact the committee to demand mandatory funding of the energy title.

In 2011, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), just one program impacted by proposed cuts:

  • Created or saved 7,000 jobs
  • Cut greenhouse gases by almost 2 million metric tons
  • Saved the equivalent of over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • Generated $456 million in investments in our communities

“We thank the Senators for including Energy Title programs in the new Farm Bill in the difficult climate they face, especially the leadership from Senators Stabenow, Lugar and Harkin.  We also hope the Agriculture Committee can restore mandatory funding to these core clean energy programs that mean so much to our rural communities and to our nation,” said Andy Olsen, senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Application Period Now Open for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Areas

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is now accepting applications for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until close of business, April 23, 2012.

“BCAP is an important and unique program that develops new biomass energy crops that can boost farmer income while providing a new energy source for the nation. It has potential across the country,” said Steve Falck, Senior Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). (more…)

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.

 

Growing Biomass: Why Incentives Matter

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Midwest Energy News examines the importance the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) still holds for farmers by talking with Steve Flick, the founder of the Show Me Energy Cooperative and with Andy Olsen, a senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“Olsen says biomass projects such as Show Me Energy serve multiple policy goals. They’re a source of cleaner-burning, homegrown energy, and the crops they use as feedstocks can help reduce soil erosion, improve air and water quality and conserve wildlife habitat.”

Read the story.

ELPC Commends Expert Testimony on Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the US Senate Committee on Agriculture heard testimony from a number of expert witnesses in support of clean energy programs in the Farm Bill. Witnesses and Senators alike praised the programs’ positive job creation, environmental protection and rural economic development benefits.

“We commend the experts and Senators who took a stand for homegrown clean energy today,” says Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), a long-time champion of the Farm Bill’s clean energy programs. “Through these programs, America has made unprecedented gains in rural renewable energy and energy efficiency. Congress and the White House should continue this forward momentum.”

Steve Flick, one of the nation’s farm energy entrepreneurs, called for Congressional action to renew and fully fund core Farm Bill clean energy programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program. “America’s farmers, ranchers and rural residents can have a bright future ahead of them with the right incentives,” Flick says. “Renewable energy is the future of rural America.”

Bennie Hutchins of Mississippi provided numerous examples of how REAP has helped agricultural producers and rural small businesses save money and produce income across the South. He shared ELPC analysis showing that REAP produces jobs at a greater than average rate.

“Farm Bill clean energy programs have been an unprecedented success. They have helped farmers reduce their energy bills and energy waste through energy efficiency and accelerated the introduction of modern clean energy technologies into the marketplace,” Olsen says. “Congress and the White House should continue this momentum by renewing and fully funding core Farm Bill clean energy programs.”