The House Appropriations Committee's agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016 would reduce mandatory spending levels for important energy title programs, including the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP), according to the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC).
REAP provides grants, feasibility studies and guaranteed loans that help farmers and rural businesses invest in wind systems that lower operating costs. The program was created in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the Agricultural Act of 2014, with guaranteed annual funding of no less than $50 million for the duration of the five-year bill.
‘The renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new manufacturing opportunities and stable, well-paying jobs,’ explains Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the AgEC. ‘A new report to Congress demonstrates the broad economic impact of innovative bio-based technology. The bio-based products industry contributes $369 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than four million Americans. The more than 40,000 bio-based products already on the market displace about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. Countless wind, solar, biomass and other projects are making a major impact, as well.’
‘Nevertheless, the House Appropriations Committee is seeking to roll back the mandatory funding levels Congress agreed to last year when passing the bi-partisan Farm Bill. Such reductions in the mandatory funding levels that Congress previously set will undermine the ongoing effectiveness of these programs.’
In addition to REAP, the groups says other affected energy programs include the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Section 9003).