Bipartisan Dozen House Members Back Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs

Washington, D.C. –  A dozen members of the House have delivered a bipartisan letter to the House Agricultural Committee asking for reauthorization of key energy title programs as the House agriculture Committee prepares to take up the Farm Bill.

Five Republicans and seven Democrats, led by Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-GA) and Tom Latham (R-IA), joined together to urge the House Agriculture Committee to renew core energy title programs that advance energy efficiency, renewable resources and energy independence.

The members called on their colleagues to support the energy title:

 We know that America can overcome her energy challenges and that our agricultural producers and rural small businesses have much to offer the nation in tapping new renewable energy sources. Overcoming these problems requires long-term and consistent commitment. We ask you to provide that leadership by renewing core Farm Bill Energy Title programs.

The Farm Bill energy title spurs jobs and economic growth by offering accelerating growth of diverse renewable energy and energy efficiency from farm energy – energy from rural America and the agricultural sector. In 2012, farm energy has grown to include energy efficiency and a broad range of homegrown electricity from solar, wind, animal wastes, biomass and water energy, as well as advanced biofuels and biogas.

The 12 representatives emphasized the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program:

 REAP has supported projects in every state and with many diverse technologies. BCAP has supported projects across the country, from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest and in the South. The Biorefinery Assistance Program has supported projects all over the US, including the South.

The bipartisan representatives took note of the nation’s advances with the first two energy titles:

Since the Energy Title was created in the 2002 Farm Bill, we have seen a growing track record of accomplishment for agriculture-based energy. Those accomplishments include over 7,750 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects funded in every state under the Rural Energy for America Program – REAP. We now have working energy crop projects launched under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, with hundreds of new projects under development. The USDA has also provided the first loan guarantees for cellulosic biofuel projects. The Department of Energy is not the only avenue for America to advance energy solutions.

The U.S. Senate is now considering a Farm Bill, passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee that continues core Energy Title programs with mandatory funding, albeit reduced by two-thirds from 2008 levels.

“The Farm Bill before the Senate emphasizes diverse renewable energy technologies across the country by making a priority of the Rural Energy for America Program,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Expert at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Joining Reps. Latham and Bishop in signing the bill were Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrow (D-GA), Roscoe G. Barlett (R-MD),  G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ron Kind (D-WI), Steve King (R-IA), Bobby Schilling (R-IL) and Aaron Schock (R-IL).