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.”

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.

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

ELPC-EESI Hill Briefing: Farm Bill Energy Title Highlighting Rural Energy for America Program

Monday, July 11th, 2011

**This briefing will be held twice on the same day **

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
1302 Longworth House Office Building

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
188 Russell Senate Office Building

The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) and Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invite you to a briefing on the energy title of the farm bill, with a special focus on the Rural Energy for America Program. (more…)