ABO Legislative Outlook

January 2012 

The 2nd session of the 112th Congress technically began at noon on January 3, however, as is usually the case for January, this month promises little legislative activity. The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session for only six days this month, with the Senate convening for the first time on January 23.

 

The highlight of the month in DC will be the President’s State of the Union Address, which will be given on Tuesday, January 24. President Obama will undoubtedly address economic recovery and, hopefully, will make a plug for green jobs and renewable energy.

 

While Congress is on recess, the rest of the Federal Government continues with business as usual as was evident by the EPA’s issuance of the 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards, signed by the EPA administrator on December 22, 2011. The 2012 RFS calls for 9.23 percent of all fuel used to come from renewable sources. The standards continue to carve out a percentage of this renewable fuel as “cellulosic biofuel.”

 

ABO supports technology-neutral renewable fuel standards. However, legislation is needed to clarify the RFS to ensure that algae-based biofuels are included. ABO has worked with Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) who have introduced legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2009) and Senate (S. 1564) to remove the cellulosic biofuel carve-out allowing all advanced biofuels to contribute on an equal footing. These “RFS parity” bills continue to be a priority for ABO, and we will push for passage during 2012.

 

ABO also supports “tax parity” legislation (H.R. 1149 by Bilbray and S. 748 by Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL) to ensure algae-based biofuels qualify for the same tax benefits as other advanced biofuels. We are working to have the algae tax parity legislation included in the package of tax extenders that will hopefully be considered by Congress, starting in February.

 

Another priority issue for ABO for the beginning of this year is supporting the Navy, DOE, and USDA as they work to finalize what could be a $510 million investment in a program to advance commercialization of “drop in” biofuels to replace jet fuel used by the Department of Defense. Funding for this program has not yet been fully approved by Congress, which has delayed the anticipated “industry day” to support the initiative. ABO will continue to lobby Congress to gain more support for this important initiative.

 

Finally, throughout 2012, we will be closely tracking the federal funding that supports algal biomass research and development. The final FY-12 appropriations bill provided $30 million to the Department of Energy for algae R&D, but with heightened focus on the deficit, ABO will need to redouble efforts to protect this appropriation and continue the algae R&D funding stream for FY-13 and beyond.

 

With the Presidential elections in November, much of Washington will be influenced by the politics of the race. It should be an exciting year!
Mary Rosenthal
Executive Director
Algae Biomass Organization
mrosenthal@algaebiomass.org
www.algaebiomass.org

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