Shaheen, Thune Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Level the Playing Field for Biomass Energy
**Bill would require EPA to authorize proven technologies and expedite review process**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator John Thune (R-SD) requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on languishing applications under the renewable fuel standard (RFS), including moving forward with allowing renewable electricity made from biomass to qualify if it is used to power electric vehicles. This would level the playing field among fuel sources, and enable biomass power plants to generate and sell credits under the RFS program to refiners that must meet national renewable fuel targets. Doing so would spur the deployment of electric vehicles and provide another source of revenue for New Hampshire’s wood-fire power plants.
“We must constantly look for innovative ways to fuel our transportation sector so the United States leads the next chapter of energy efficiency and renewable technology, especially as we confront the intensifying climate crisis,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bill along with Senator Thune to tackle the backlog of advanced biofuel registrations, empowering producers to utilize the latest technology and research in fuel production. I have long worked to level the playing field for our biomass producers to participate in the Renewable Fuel Standard, and I’ll continue to fight for investments that strengthen our energy industry to build a more sustainable future.”
“The Renewable Fuel Standard has been a driver of American energy innovation, but regulatory inaction has stifled the advancement of promising technologies like ethanol derived from corn kernel fiber,” said Thune. “This bill will permit biofuel producers to capitalize on the research and facility investments they have made to bring this technology to scale, improve their operating margins, and further lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This will strengthen the biofuel industry, which continues to provide an essential market for South Dakota farmers.”
Under the bipartisan Shaheen-Thune bill, the EPA would be required to approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have gone without approval by the agency, despite the fuels already being successfully used in at least one state. The EPA would also be required to render a decision within 90 days on any registration application that has been pending for at least 180 days, as well as take action within 180 days for completed pathways petitions pending for at least 180 days.
In addition to approving certain biofuel registrations and requiring EPA action on pending registration applications and pathway petitions, the bill would provide $2 million for the EPA to carry out the functions of the bill.
Senator Shaheen has been a steadfast advocate for utilizing biomass for clean energy initiatives and leveling the playing field for producers of biomass energy. Over the summer, Shaheen visited Burgess Biopower in Berlin, where she met with plant leadership, Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier and members of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association and discussed the importance of renewable fuel sources in combating climate change, as well as the state of the biomass and timber industry in New Hampshire amid COVID-19. In September, Shaheen reintroduced her bipartisan bill - the Forest Incentives Program Act - with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), which would help landowners make forest management more affordable and provide them with sustainable options to preserve their land. In the funding bill for fiscal year 2021, Shaheen secured $5 million for the USDA Agriculture’s Community Wood Energy Program and Wood Innovation, a competitive grant program that aims to assist with the costs of installing high-efficiency, biomass-fueled energy systems. Shaheen also led the New Hampshire delegation in calling on the EPA to act on existing Congressional direction to include electricity in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in time for biomass power producers to participate in the 2020 market. The New Hampshire biomass power industry has been directly threatened by the agency’s failure to include electricity in the RFS program.