Budget Cuts Spare Biomass, but Barely

Budget cuts proposed for the U.S. Department of Energy will reduce federal spending on renewable energy by 40 percent, but the country’s biomass program is largely spared.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-04-19 <SolarAccess.com> “We are glad of the support for bioenergy as a power and fuel resource,” says Katherine Hamilton of the American Bioenergy Association. “We believe biomass can provide many solutions to our electricity and transportation needs. Biomass can stimulate our rural economy while reducing oil dependence by using agriculture and other organic waste to create fuels that are usually produced from petroleum.” The budget for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy proposes severe cuts to many renewable energy and energy efficiency research and deployment programs “at a time when energy demand exceeds supply and the nation is looking for as many new energy options as possible,” she adds. “While the overall renewable energy budget was cut 40 percent and some programs were eliminated altogether, the bioenergy programs, including funding for biofuels and biomass power, were left just below last year’s appropriated levels. Strong advocacy from key supporters in Congress convinced the Department to leave those accounts in better shape than others.” ABA is concerned that programs within the energy efficiency industrial program have been cut by 50 percent. These programs support research on chemicals produced from biomass. The group also remains “extremely concerned” with the “essential decimation” of other viable renewable energy technology programs. “The overall renewables budget is dangerously low, especially at a time when energy diversity is so critical and the prospect for clean, renewable energy technologies so promising,” she adds. ABA will work with other renewable energy groups to raise the levels for all programs. Last year, Senator Jeffords had 56 signers on a Senate support letter for renewable energy programs. This year, interest in the bipartisan House and Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses reached a new high, with 32 Senators and 174 members of Congress as members.

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