Industry group identifies three priorities for legislators, throws support behind four bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 19, 2009) – The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) conducted a policy briefing to make the case for legislation to help accelerate the commercialization of algal biomass-based energy solutions. In open forums and individual briefings with legislators, ABO and its members delivered key insights gleaned from surveys of more than 400 algae industry leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs and end users. They also identified and voiced support for several pieces of legislation currently being considered by Congress.
On behalf of its more than 170 members, ABO focused on three key messages for policymakers.
First, the majority of respondents believe that the most compelling attributes of algae are its ability to serve as a replacement for fossil-based fuels while also beneficially re-using carbon dioxide. While algae have tremendous potential for many other uses in the long term, the industry believes that the most pressing needs are in the areas of energy independence and carbon dioxide reduction.
Second, when it comes to the development of standards and other regulations, the industry survey identified the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency as the three most appropriate Federal entities with whom to interface today. Nonetheless, ABO recognizes the important role the Department of Defense has played in fostering acceptance and use of algae-based fuels.
Third, within the industry there is broad support for the development of lifecycle assessments and technical standards that benchmark the environmental impacts and benefits of algae-based technologies. Such data are imperative to illustrating the long term sustainability of algae biomass and quantifying its environmental impact. These must be developed in concert with algae developers as well as other stakeholders, including key environmental NGOs.
These messages are particularly relevant as Congress and the Obama administration continue to support the development of sustainable and renewable energy technologies. No fewer than half a dozen bills, amendments and regulations concerning algae’s treatment as a biofuel feedstock are currently being considered in Congress. Legislative support for feedstock parity that puts algae on a level playing field with other biofuel feedstocks is absolutely essential to algae’s potential for radically changing the domestic energy industry. Such legislation would also complement tremendous advances that have been made over the past two years in the algae industry’s technological development, commercialization efforts and investment from the financial community and oil industry.
“The legislative decisions being made today will impact our industry now and far into the future,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “It’s important that policymakers fully understand the potential for algae to help resolve critical issues facing our world – GHG emissions reduction, energy security and job creation – all of which a strong algae industry will help address.”
In addition to the key themes and messages, ABO and its member companies identified several key pieces of legislation for support, including:
Renewable Fuels Promotion Act of 2009 (S. 1250). Sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), this bill would give algae-based fuels tax parity with cellulosic biofuels.
Algae Fuel Parity Act (HR 3460). Sponsored by Representative Brian Bilbray (R-CA), this bill would amend the Clean Air Act to include algae-based biofuels in the Renewable Fuel Standard and in the cellulosic biofuel producer tax credit.
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HR 2454). Sponsored by Henry Waxman (D-CA) and supported by Edward Markey (D-MA), this legislation recognizes algae’s ability to beneficially reuse CO2 and ensures algae’s place in a cap-and-trade regime.
Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009 (S. 1733). The Kerry-Boxer bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) recently was amended in the chairman’s mark to level the playing field for advanced green biofuels and recognize the potential of algae to beneficially reuse CO2, create jobs and increase the nation’s energy independence. The bill also includes the House provision that makes room for algae-based fuels in a cap-and-trade regime. The RFS amendment was offered by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). This bill also has seen key support from Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) who supported algae-based fuels during the process.
These bills collectively reflect the initiatives undertaken by ABO and its member companies during the past year, during which they stressed two key needs. First, algae must receive the same tax incentives, subsidies and other financial benefits currently accorded other feed stocks. In addition, the industry believes that algae must be recognized as an effective carbon reduction strategy and safe for commercial production under the same regulations governing other traditional renewable fuel feedstocks.
“With many thanks to the hard work and advocacy of our member companies and several elected officials, we are close to achieving the goals we set earlier this year,” said Rosenthal. “The industry, and as a result our environment, national security and economy will benefit.”
About the ABO
The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and advocate for the development of commercially-viable transportation and power generation fuels as well as other non-energy applications for algae biomass. Its membership is comprised of people, companies and organizations across the value chain. More information about ABO, including its leadership, membership, costs, benefits and members and their affiliations, is available at the website.
John Williams, Scoville PR for ABO