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Senator Udall Visits Sapphire, Calls for Parity

One of Sapphire Energy's 2 acre algae pondsU.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) visited Sapphire Energy’s Research & Development facility in Las Cruces New Mexico yesterday to learn more about the company’s revolutionary process to convert algae into “green crude”, a drop-in replacement for fossil crude oil. The Las Cruces facility is the largest, photosynthetic, fully integrated, algae-to-energy testing facility in the world.

At 22 acres, the site has more than 70 active ponds, varying in size from 14-foot test ponds to 300-foot, one million liter production ponds.  Sapphire Energy has over 180,000 hours of pilot data to prove that we can grow and harvest algae outdoors in open ponds year-round, from the scorching, 100+ degree summers, to the freezing winters.

During the visit, Senator Udall remarked on the need for better federal policy to help accelerate solutions like Sapphire’s. “We have a problem with parity,” Udall said. “We need to build a coalition, Democrats and Republicans, and figure out how to get that parity.”

Parity is the idea that technologies delivering a new generation advanced biofuels should get the same tax and regulatory treatment as first-generation biofuels.

Parity has been a primary objective of ABO’s legislative efforts of the past few years, and as technologies like Sapphire’s and others move out of the labs and into commercial production, it’s more important than ever to have a level playing field.

Earlier this year, ABO and its allies secured inclusion of the second generation biofuel credits (which include a $1.01 per gallon credit for algae fuels) in tax extenders legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee, and in House legislation introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer. The issue awaits congressional action after the November 4 elections. ABO continues to work with the House and Senate tax writing committees in support of extending the 2nd generation biofuel tax credit.

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