American Biogas Council Policy Update

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Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

ABC staff and members met with White House staff, legislators and federal agency officials during a recent fly-in to Washington, D.C.

The American Biogas Council is celebrating its fifth year as the association for the anaerobic digestion and biogas industries. The Council, with over 200 members and 8,000 stakeholders, is very active in legislative activities at both the federal and state levels. Most recently, the ABC hosted a “fly-in” to Washington, D.C. for its members and Board of Directors to advance policies and legislation that directly benefit the biogas industry.

The first stop was the White House, where members of the Board of Directors, ABC Executive Director Patrick Serfass and ABC lobbyist Maureen Walsh had a very productive meeting with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which is part of the Executive Office of the President. The meeting helped more fully inform CEQ about anaerobic digestion’s (AD) role in reducing methane emissions and contributing to the Administration’s climate change strategy. CEQ supports ABC’s efforts to establish a NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) industry code for biogas; adjust the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Management Hierarchy to be more reflective of current digester technologies; and ABC’s response to the latest EPA proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

While ABC is pleased EPA revised upward its cellulosic targets in the proposed RFS rule released in early June, the revised levels are far below the levels mandated in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The ABC argued strongly that the RFS was put into place to spur the development of biofuel capacity. If proposed mandated amounts are only slightly higher than current capacity, growth is stifled.

During the fly-in, ABC also continued its dialogue with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) to update and more accurately reflect the role of anaerobic digestion in the agency’s Waste Management Hierarchy, just as EPA has recently done with its Food Recovery Hierarchy, formalizing the role of AD in food waste recycling. During the meeting, the ABC shared over 60 greenhouse gas life cycle analyses that support modifying the solid waste hierarchy to include AD.

On To Capitol Hill

Next, attention was turned to Capitol Hill. A total of 24 ABC members representing 11 different states attended 18 meetings in the House and Senate. Legislators were urged to strengthen and protect the RFS, extend the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) for biogas to renewable electricity as well as establish a biogas ITC for purposes beyond renewable electricity, and to protect Farm Bill funding for important programs in the bill’s Energy Title. Direct participation of ABC members played a critical role in securing key meetings and linking policy to constituents in their districts.

Coincidentally, the week that ABC members were on Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee was completing its mark up on a bipartisan tax extenders bill that would extend the PTC and ITC for two years. This bill still has a long road ahead — passage on the Senate floor, approval by the House, and ultimately, signed into law by the White House.

Additionally, the ABC delegation was on Capitol Hill when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, includes titles on Energy Efficiency and Infrastructure, which could offer some small benefits to AD. Again, this bill still must run the gauntlet of passage on the Senate floor, the difficult approval process in the House and ultimate approval by President Obama.

Read the full article in BioCycle Magazine

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