Economic Stimulus Sought for Agriculture and Renewables

Cindy Zimmerman

A diverse coalition of 34 business, agriculture and environmental groups is asking Congressional leaders to support an economic recovery package that provides strong funding for agriculture-based, clean energy development programs.

25x'25The National 25x’25 Steering Committee and other renewable energy advocacy groups outlined a three part recommendation in a letter to Congressional leaders this week. The letter recommends including at least $1.2 billion each year in mandatory supplemental appropriations for important Farm Bill Energy Title programs; restructuring and extending the federal Production Tax Credits (PTC) for renewable energy, cellulosic biofuels, and biomass for five years; and extending and expanding successful clean renewable energy and conservation bond programs which provide PTC-like incentives for electric cooperatives, public power, and municipalities to build new renewable energy facilities and invest in energy efficiency.

The coalition is largely made up of agricultural organizations, but also includes such groups as the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Environmental Law & Policy Center. NWF Director of Global Warming, Agriculture and Wildlife Julie Sibbing says their top priority is addressing global climate change and they believe addressing energy needs is a new way is the only way to get there. “Unfortunately this economy is very dependent on good credit and funding to start up these new industries and the economic crisis is really taking a toll,” she says. “If we don’t free up some money we could be putting the entire green tech future on hold for several years.”

Sibbing says USDA programs such as Rural Energy for America and the Biomass Crop Assistance that fund renewable energy have a big impact on rural economies and play an important role in moving the green tech industry forward. “We think now is the time to move the next generation of biofuels forward, but it relies extensively on the agricultural sector,” she said.

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