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December 7, 2023

Bipartisan House Legislation Would Support Biofuels and Biomanufacturing Innovation

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On November 14, 2023, Representatives Nikki Budzinski (D-IL) and Zach Nunn (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation that would increase biofuel production and reduce energy costs. The Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation and Opportunity (Ag BIO) Act (H.R. 6413) would increase funding for grants to support innovation in the biofuels and bioproducts industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program offers loans for development, construction, and implementation of new technologies in biobased manufacturing, but according to Budzinski’s November 15, 2023, press release, the program is underused “due to bureaucratic red tape preventing businesses from accessing funding.” The press release states that the bill would improve the program by:

  • Creating a grant within the program for the construction and expansion of new or existing biorefineries;
  • Expanding the types of biofuels eligible for funding, including ultra-low carbon bioethanol and zero-carbon bioethanol; and
  • Eliminating “bureaucratic red tape” impeding access to the funding, including a requirement for duplicative feasibility studies on already proven and commercially available technologies.

To ensure the program has sufficient funding to meet increased demand with these changes, the bill would also increase funding for the grant and loan program to $100 million annually over five years. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture. A companion bill (S. 2987) was introduced in the Senate on September 28, 2023, by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.