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Climate Policy is Moving Again and A Voice for Algae is More Important Than Ever

The Biden Administration is weaving climate policy into almost every facet of the government, and at ABO we are working closely with the White House, Congress and federal agencies to ensure that the microalgae and seaweed industry can play its part.  A robust algae industry has the potential to employ thousands of people, lend solutions to hundreds of markets in need of sustainable options, and help lay the foundations for a low-carbon global economy. 

Smart policy choices can accelerate the day those benefits become a reality. From the design of regulations and R&D funding, to federal procurement rules and rural job development, ABO is making sure today’s policy discussions include the importance of algae. 

Here are some of the latest policy priorities ABO in working on:

Ensure Algae is Part of the Climate Fight

With the Administration’s commitment to making climate change a priority across government, ABO is busy providing input on how algae can fit into everything from carbon capture and land use decisions, to carbon offsets and more. 

  • We recently provided input to help ensure algae and seaweed agriculture are eligible for provisions in the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill would help farmers tap into resources to allow them to get credits for adopting climate-smart practices, specifically current and future activities that prevent, reduce, or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.
  • We are currently engaged with a bipartisan coalition to ensure the algae can find even more support in the revolutionary 45Q tax credit for carbon utilization. We are advocating for changes that can incentivize carbon capture from an even wider range of algae producers. 

Supercharge Algae Agriculture with the Help of the USDA

At ABO we think it is vital to lay the foundations for a large-scale commercialization of algae farming that can be integral to classic agriculture.

The USDA’s Climate Smart Agriculture strategy is one new initiative with great potential to leverage the innovation and potential of America’s farmers and ranchers to the cause of climate mitigation and adaptation. Algae farmers should be included in that strategy. 

We have asked USDA to consider a wide range of effective measures than can help the algae industry decarbonize agricultural practices and products, including:

  • Supporting the launch of the Algae Center of Excellence, an ABO priority that will be key to coordinating algae research and commercialization into food, feed, biomaterials, soil amendments, CO2 removal, other GHG abatement, waterway restoration, Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB)  prevention and mitigation, and wastewater treatment.
  • Investing in Carbon Capture and Utilization Innovation that can harness algae’s ability to to utilize non-arable land (in addition to CO2), fix soil carbon, remediate impaired waters, as well as to support rural development.
  • Include algae in low-carbon bioenergy and biomaterials investments such as fuels, plastics, foam products, fertilizers/compost, and more.
  • Include algae solutions in climate smart practices through USDA conservation programs, such as USDA tools like CometPlanner, that farmers use to evaluate crops for their carbon impacts.
  • Support research, development and commercialization of HAB biomass as fertilizer and soil amendments. New technologies for HAB mitigation can physically remove algae from affected waterways, and further R&D can put these solutions into practice in communities across the U.S. 
  • Increase SBIR grants for accelerating development and commercialization of algae products and services. SBIR grants have already helped startups develop kelp-enhanced breads, refine the process for producing valuable oils from algae, and create algae-based aquaculture feed. The USDA should join other agencies in supporting more innovations like these. 
  • Include algae solutions in Carbon Bank development: If USDA considers launching a Carbon Bank, algae-based soil amendments that build soil fertility and store carbon should be included alongside other practices applied in regenerative agriculture. 

Maintain Robust Research, Development and Commercialization Funding at the DOE

Appropriations for algae research has allowed for remarkable technology advances over the past decade, especially at the Department of Energy (DOE). This year the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is directing $40 million to advanced algae research. $21 million was dedicated by the DOE’s Fossil Energy (FE) office for non-geologic carbon utilization activities, and $10 million is being allocated for R&D into direct air capture technologies. 

ABO is in touch with Members of Congress as they plan for FY2022 appropropriations that can continue this long-standing and successful support. 

Are you ready to learn more about how algae can play a role in climate policy and economic development? Join us! ABO is a leading voice for the microalgae and macroalgae industry. We believe that robust policy support can accelerate technology and business development in a way that delivers invaluable benefits. 

And don’t forget to join hundreds of algae professionals at the 2021 Algae Biomass Summit, being held virtually September 28-October 27. We will be gathering to discuss these priorities and more with leaders from all over the world. 

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  • Discounted pricing to ABO events, and more!
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