Update on Renewable Energy Stimulus Provisions

Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced an amendment (#397) to the economic recovery legislation last night that would move US $1.14 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) into energy programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA). The amendment could be voted on later today.

The Senate bill, which RenewableEnergyWorld.com took an in depth look at yesterday, currently includes $250 million for USDA energy programs, compared with approximately $40 billion for DOE energy programs. The senators’ amendment shifts $1.14 billion of the $40 billion DOE funding to USDA energy initiatives enacted in the recent farm bill.

“USDA energy programs play a critical role in reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign fuels and help build wealth and prosperity in rural and urban communities across the country,” said Senator Harkin. “USDA has a proven track record of quickly, efficiently, and successfully running programs that boost development of advanced biofuels for our transportation systems and invest in our own backyards. It is critically important that we provide the funding they need to move forward quickly.”

The senators noted that in order to meet the national targets in the Renewable Fuel Standard, there needs to be new support for biomass crop production, harvesting, transport and storage – programs already in place at USDA. In addition, during this time when private investment capital is slowing to a drip, the senators believe that Congress needs to support the growing number of commercial biorefineries for advanced biofuels, as well as biomass research and development for better technologies in the future.

“This amendment will bring economic opportunity to Montana and across rural America,” Senator Tester said. “We need jobs not politics as usual, and this bipartisan measure will put farm country to work to help secure America’s energy future.”

The full bill may be voted on later today in the Senate. From there it will be conferenced with House leadership to work out the differences in the bills the two houses passed. The Obama Administration hopes the final vote will take place next week.

Stay tuned to RenewableEnergyWorld.com for more updates on the stimulus plan.

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