The budget request proposes to eliminate funding for several biofuels and biomass programs that TCS has had on the chopping block for years. Many of these programs have a history of wasting taxpayer dollars and/or being duplicative of other federal programs, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS mandates increasing consumption of biofuels in the U.S., reaching 36 billion gallons by 2022. Programs that the FY19 budget request would eliminate include the following (first three are programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture – USDA – and others are federal tax credits):
- Rural Energy for America Program (REAP): REAP was intended to primarily fund rural wind, solar, and other renewable energy projects, but it also squandered taxpayer dollars on the mature corn ethanol industry through subsidies for special pumps required to dispense higher blends of ethanol. While Congress was eliminating this practice in the 2014 farm bill, USDA found other ways to unilaterally subsidize ethanol blender pumps despite Congressional opposition. TCS awarded USDA the Golden Fleece award in 2015 for creating a new program – the Biofuels Infrastructure Project – to do just that. REAP has also funded various special interest projects such as oxygen monitoring systems for catfish farms and construction of confined poultry feeding operations.
- Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (BPAB): The program was intended to spur advancements in advanced biofuels and production technologies, but BPAB has instead primarily funded the mature soy biodiesel and corn ethanol industries. In fact, more than 50 percent of the $250 million in BPAB funding from 2009 through May 2016 benefited these two industries while less than 5 percent supported “next generation” biofuels derived from non-food-based landfill gas, cellulosic agricultural residues, wastes, etc.
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): BCAP subsidizes the planting of biofuel/biomass crops and provides matching payments for the collection, harvest, transportation, and storage of agricultural residues and other next-generation biofuel/biomass feedstocks. Because the program got off to a rocky start and initially provided more than $230 million in unintended subsidies for the pulp and paper industry, Congress has since rightfully limited its funding to $25 million per year or less.