August 4, 2009

Bipartisan House Bill Would Include Algae in RFS

A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers has introduced legislation that would grant incentives to algae-based biofuels producers.

The bill, H.R. 3460 (pdf), sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), would add algae-based fuels to cellulosic biofuels requirements in the national renewable fuel standard, or RFS.

Algae-based fuel producers have been lobbying for RFS recognition as they work to scale up their industry (Greenwire, April 28). It is possible that U.S. EPA could include the feedstock in its final rule for implementing the RFS this fall.

"Policymakers' inclusion of algae with other feedstocks is a really positive step," said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algal Biomass Organization. "It's an additional endorsement that algae is a real feedstock for biofuels."

Advanced biofuels producers have been scaling up new technologies to meet the RFS, which calls for production and blending of up to 21 billion gallons of renewable fuels from non-food sources by 2022. But the algae industry has not reached commercial scale yet.

"This will encourage investors that there is a real industry here even before it is completely commercialized," Rosenthal said.

The new legislation would also establish a tax credit for algae-derived fuel producers. That part of the bill is similar to a measure introduced last session that would have extended renewable-energy tax credits to algae-based fuels. That legislation, H.R. 6943 (pdf), which was also sponsored by Bilbray, stalled in committee.

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