As Senate and House ag leaders work to craft farm bill recommendations the Advanced Ethanol Council is asking that they consider extensions and smart modifications to a number of rural energy initiatives currently administered by USDA. In a recent letter AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman pressed lawmakers on three specific provisions: including USDA's Loan Guarantee program for biorefinery projects; the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP.
First, Coleman would like to see the Loan Guarantee program extended with provisions improved to more effectively facilitate participation by lending institutions. Second, Coleman would like support for USDA's efforts to build out ethanol refueling infrastructure through REAP. Finally, Coleman seeks reform of BCAP to increase cost effectiveness and better encourage energy crop production for the advanced biofuel sector.
"The next generation of the U.S. ethanol industry is just beginning to break ground on first commercial projects across the country, and while the Energy Title currently accounts for less than 1 percent of total budgetary outlays for the 2008 Farm Bill, many of these programs will be critical to existing and future advanced ethanol development projects," wrote AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman in the letter. "We are aware that the funding available for the new Farm Bill will be reduced significantly …. and look forward to thinking creatively with you about comprehensive solutions that cut cost but continue to provide meaningful value to an emerging advanced ethanol industry."
Additionally, members of the AEC expressed interest in working with lawmakers to modify the Repowering Assistance program to help existing biorefining operations deploy advanced ethanol technologies and feedstock utilization. Many emerging advanced ethanol technologies will provide value to existing ethanol production facilities by diversifying feedstocks and improving efficiencies as well as creating new opportunities as stand alone facilities.