Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2012

Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President

WASHINGTON, DC – With a bipartisan vote of 64-35, the U.S. Senate today passed a Farm Bill that includes $800 million in mandatory funding to grow rural America’s clean, reliable, domestic energy from wind, solar and geothermal, biodigesters and homegrown biofuels.

“This Farm Bill supports clean energy in America.  This Energy Title includes policies and funding to help agricultural producers of all sorts benefit from the growth of energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and homegrown energy,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. (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.

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.

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.”

REAP Farm Energy Investments Announced as Congress Considers Cuts to Funding

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

(Nov 9, 2011) Today USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced another round of awards under the Rural Energy for America Program, with a focus on solar, wind, geothermal and small hydropower. The awards reflect the growing and diverse opportunities for American agriculture and rural communities to profit from renewable energy.

Despite the success and popularity of the program, a Congressional “Conference Committee” is now deliberating just how drastically to cut REAP funding for 2012. “REAP is a successful clean energy program, generating jobs and economic development in rural communities while cutting pollution,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Congress can create jobs and grow our economy, by continuing to renew and robustly REAP for 2012 and beyond.” (more…)

Michigan Agri-Business Association Supports Farm Bill Energy Title

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, appeared in the Detroit Free Press as a guest commentator. He discussed the need to continue the Farm Bill Energy Title, which encourages renewable energy on farms in Michigan and elsewhere as a way to provide farmers with additional opportunities for income and which helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

They said:

Here are some agricultural priorities that should be included as Congress proceeds:

Including:

Continuing the energy title in the 2005 Farm Bill, which encourages renewable energy on farms in Michigan as a way to provide farmers with additional opportunities for income and helps reduce our dependence on imported oil.

For more, read the commentary.