House Approves Udall Legislation to Encourage Biomass as Energy Source
Congress today approved a measure that included provisions from a bill sponsored by Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO), a member of the House Science Committee, which establishes a coordinated interagency research and development program in the use of biomass for the production of energy, fuels and other products. The provisions were included in Title III of the Agriculture Risk Protection Act, a bill that lowers the cost to farmers of obtaining Federal crop insurance.
"Last year, I introduced H.R. 2819, The Biomass Research and Development Act of 1999. I am especially pleased that the crop insurance bill passed by the House today incorporates important concepts from my bill," said Udall. "I would like to express my appreciation for the Herculean effort by the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and the House Science Committee in working with the authors of the various biomass bills to arrive at a meaningful compromise. This has been a time-consuming task for all of us, but it has been well worth the effort."
The legislation would encourage the evaluation of new energy crops and accelerate the development of advanced biomass technologies to produce a variety of energy-related products and reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels. Specifically, the proposal would authorize additional Federal dollars for competitively awarded grants and contracts for biobased product research and development. Additionally, it would create an interagency board to promote coordination and cooperation among Federal agencies' R&D programs, and create an advisory committee of non-governmental stakeholders, including environmentalists, economists, and agricultural experts, to provide input on Federal biomass R&D programs.
Biomass encompasses plants, trimmings and other wastes that can be used to make energy. Increased biomass use has the potential to provide economic growth as well as national energy security, environmental and public health benefits, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs.
Udall concluded by stating that tripling our use of bioenergy and biobased products in the next decade "could generate as much as $20 billion a year in new income for farmers and rural communities. Biomass can help us meet our clean fuel demands, while strengthening our agricultural sector and protecting our environment. This bill will set us on the road toward securing our energy future."