South Bend alternative energy supporter hopes Sen. Lugar continues effort for energy jobs in Indiana May 1, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Biofuels, Federal energy legislation, Uncategorized.
Tags: Biobased Markets Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program, Senate Agriculture Committee’s draft Farm Bill, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar
add a comment
Dear IndianaDG Readers,
I just received this via email this evening. I just called Sam and told him that I would share his Op Ed with IndianaDG readers. Here goes…
Laura Ann Arnold
I am a resident in South Bend and have been a supporter of alternative energy for many years. I am hoping that Senator Lugar will continue his tremendous effort for energy jobs in Indiana along with support from the community. I have written an op ed that I think outlines the Senators recent achievements and I was hoping to share it with your viewers. I have attached my copy for your review please accept my kindest regards and best wishes.
Farm Energy Has Made Tremendous Progress
The good news about the Senate Agriculture Committee’s draft Farm Bill, released last week, is that it reauthorizes renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. These programs are just beginning to have a positive impact in revitalizing rural America, fueling economic growth and job creation where we need it most. Ongoing funding for these programs would provide the highest return on taxpayer dollars and ensure the future of emerging energy and renewable chemical markets.
The Farm Bill enacted 10 years ago in 2002 was the first to contain an energy title. But most of the programs being reauthorized only came into being in 2008. And it wasn’t until late 2010 and early 2011 that final rules for these programs were published.
Still, in that relatively short time span, these programs have helped renewable energy companies unlock private capital for construction of advanced biorefineries, something that has been extraordinarily difficult during the recent economic downturn. They have also helped farmers in over 150 counties across 10 states begin to put more than 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland into production of next generation energy crops. The programs have further ignited an explosion of innovation and early commercialization of renewable chemicals here in the United States. Overall, the programs have demonstrated a high rate of success.
The Biobased Markets Program, first enacted in 2002, has been tremendously successful in supporting the emergence of a new market for agriculture-based or biobased products. The first six categories of products eligible for this program were designated in March 2006, following a lengthy rulemaking process. By 2007, a U.S. International Trade Commission survey of the industry identified 5,700 workers at 159 companies manufacturing these products. Today, there are 64 categories of biobased products eligible for the program. And a recent Iowa State survey of the industry has identified more than 100,000 workers making or selling these products.
The first large-scale renewable chemical company in the United States, NatureWorks LLC in Nebraska, was established in 2002. In 2009, the plant doubled capacity in order to meet demand for its renewable, biodegradable product. Similarly, another early renewable chemical company, DuPont Tate & Lyle Bioproducts in Tennessee, recently expanded production to meet rising demand. Myriant is working to complete a large scale biorefinery in Louisiana to produce renewable chemicals. And many other renewable chemical companies are looking to locate new construction here in the United States, if the policy environment is right.
The Biorefinery Assistance Program can show a similar record of success. While it is rooted in the 2002 Farm Bill’s grant program, the program only began to work with private companies in late 2009. The first advanced biofuel biorefineries successfully secured private financing in late 2011, with the backing of this program. INEOS New Planet Energy is under construction in Florida and will begin commercial production of cellulosic biofuel this summer.
The Farm Bill’s energy title programs have provided a strong return for American taxpayers and have produced demonstrated results. New markets for agricultural products are emerging, creating new opportunities for U.S. companies and skilled workers. The programs are also providing environmental benefits, because renewable energy and chemicals are cleaner, safer and healthier. Congress should continue to provide significant funding for the farm bill energy title so we can continue to foster American innovation. With the progress that has been made and with more companies ready to build biobased manufacturing facilities, these forward-looking, high-return programs are a much-needed part of the Farm Bill.