As the folks who are making the next generation of ethanol made their pitch to Congress (see Cindy’s post from earlier), the people who are producing biodiesel from what could be the next great feedstock, algae, reminded members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research not to forget about their truly green fuel.
Mary Rosenthal with the Algal Biomass Association told the representatives that despite some good progress for the algae biodiesel industry in recent years (not to mention the potential it holds), many of today’s federal biofuel policies simply ignore the role algae could play, limiting opportunities for funding and regulatory acceptance. She says she just wants a fair shake from the government:
Key to algae’s success in the fuels market will be ensuring:
1. Financial parity – Algae must receive the same tax incentives, subsidies and other financial benefits allowed to other first and second generation renewable fuels such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.
2. Market parity – The federal renewable fuel standard will, for the foreseeable future, drive the U.S. market for renewable fuels. The current law focuses on corn ethanol in the near term and cellulosic ethanol over the long term. Algae based biofuels should be treated the same as cellulosic biofuels.
3. Regulatory parity – Algae must be recognized under the same regulations governing other traditional feedstocks, as an effective carbon reduction strategy and as safe for commercial production.
4. Appropriate treatment under federal climate change regulation – Algae production facilities can use CO2 from power plants and other emission sources to grow algae. This process can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Put a price on carbon that will send the right signals to the finacial sector, energy companies and others to support the commercialization of the algae industry.
5. Provide support for government incentives in R&D and commercialization. Support for the funding that has been made available through the stimulus and Renewable Fuel Standard are types of program that helps develop the market for advanced biofuels.
Rosenthal urged Congress not to miss the opportunity of developing a truly renewable, sustainable fuel that will create jobs, reduce pollution and increase national energy independence.