What is in this article?:
- EPA reduces required biofuel blend amount.
- Testimony at Senate Agriculture Committee hearing pushes back against EPA action.
- Oil companies blamed for not providing access for biofuels at the pump.
Five points, Southeast perspective
Arora also gave the committee a list of things that should be considered “for furthering the domestic development of advanced biofuels and biomass-based energy options.” Those are:
- The industry is still in its infancy.
“Currently there is no ‘dominant design’ for advanced biofuels technologies or feedstocks, which means that many different technologies are being perfected that can use a wide variety of feedstocks. This opens up opportunities for many technical and business innovations in this sector from deploying very large scale systems to small modular and even on-farm systems. Achieving the concept of dominant design makes a technology more bankable and much easier to be adopted by the masses.”
- Many parts of the country, especially the Southeast, are well suited to generate current and emerging feedstocks in an ecologically sustainable manner, which can provide very effective regional solutions.
“For example, forestry and poultry are two of the biggest industries in the Southeastern United States that can supply feedstocks currently for advanced biofuels. Emerging dedicated energy crops such as grasses and algae also grow well in this climate, but additional research and market development is still needed to optimize the feedstock supply chains.”
- Deployment of these technologies will lead to an increase in the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related jobs across the country, which will be difficult to off-shore and will also lead to rural wealth creation.
“However, we need to better connect and leverage federal research assets with local universities, schools, business and nonprofit organizations to accelerate the development of these technologies.”
- Advanced biofuels should not be limited to just liquid fuels, but should be viewed in a more comprehensive manner to include viable biomass-based energy and biochemical options in gaseous, liquid and solid forms, thereby necessitating a long-term and stable policy that provides clear market certainty.
“The announcement by President Obama March 28 unveiling a strategy to curb methane emissions does that to a great extent; however, the national Biogas Roadmap scheduled to be released in June this year is expected to focus primarily on the dairy industry, which is quite small in the south compare to poultry.
“Millions of tons of poultry waste is generated in states from Maryland to Arkansas and the contributions to biogas production from this very viable feedstock have largely been ignored. There are tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities in developing such systems that can lead to rural job growth and keep energy prices low for farmers, while improving soil health.”
- A large enough volume of advanced biofuels and biomass-based energy options in the overall mix will help keep fuel prices in-check by diversifying our energy supply and enhancing our national security, but market conditioning efforts led by various federal agencies must continue for greater adoption of such fuels.