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Algae Perspectives by Mary Rosenthal

ABO’s Legislative Update for September

September 2, 2012

As the House and Senate were about to leave Washington for August, a flurry of legislation important to the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) made progress. The Senate Finance Committee passed a tax extenders bill which includes parity tax treatment for algae with other biofuels. This is one of ABO’s legislative priorities, and we were very pleased to see our language included in this legislation. A few updates on other legislative items:

FY 13 Defense Appropriations Bill 
– On August 2nd the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee passed the FY 13 Defense Appropriations bill. This bill would fund the Department of Defense’s programs and activities for Fiscal Year 2013.
In a win for the biofuels community, the Senate Defense Subcommittee approved a bill that includes $70M for the Navy biofuels program as requested in the President’s budget, and added $100 million to the Defense Production Act that provides potential additional funding for the Navy’s military biofuels program.

This bill still must pass the full Senate. The House Defense Appropriations bill does not fund the $70 million requested by the Administration for the Navy biofuels project, but the House did add $50M in general funds for defense-related initiatives. The differences between the House and Senate versions would be worked out in conference when Congress reconvenes in September.

Be sure to connect with your Representatives and Senators on this important bill. For a list of your local representatives go to the ABO website.

National Defense Authorization Act 
– ABO continues to work with a coalition of biofuels groups to fight the anti-biofuels language that was added to the Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This language prohibits the Department of Defense from purchasing biofuels that are not cost-competitive with conventional fuel. It also effectively prohibits the Pentagon from funding biorefineries.

Further action is expected later in the year, and we will keep you updated with the latest developments.

Farm Bill — The US House of Representatives passed the Drought Relief Aid Bill, by a vote of 223-197 on August 2nd.

Passage of this bill resulted in the House of Representatives returning to their districts for the August work period without passing a comprehensive Farm Bill.

The Senate has passed a 5-year Farm Bill that includes an Energy Title with mandatory funding. ABO worked with other biofuels groups to support this title and the mandatory funding.

The Senate bill does, however, include language to prohibit algae from participation in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). ABO is working with Senate staff to eliminate the language that prohibits algae’s participation in BCAP. Since the language that prohibits algae’s inclusion in BCAP is not part of the House Farm Bill draft we will also work with House staff to support their BCAP language

The future of the Farm Bill legislation is uncertain, but September promises to bring more discussion and debate over the proceedings.

As summer winds down, keep in mind that these new policy victories and industry milestones are building up to the largest, most important Algae Biomass Summit yet, to be held in Denver, September 24-27.  You can expect celebrations of the past year, planning for the next, and plenty of new business networking for an industry with a very bright future.

I can’t wait to see you there!

Mary Rosenthal
Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization

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