Biofuels bill would subsidize dirty energy

Post date: Feb 14, 2015 5:46:05 PM

The "biomass thermal production" part of this bill would subsidize industry for converting to wood-burning furnaces--dirty energy.

Hamilton, Rod, and Tom Saxhaug. 2015. MN 2015 HF 536 / SF 517: Advanced Biofuel, Renewable Chemical, and Biomass Production Incentive Programs Established.

It would not address concerns with wildlife habitat loss, net energy footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, or particulate emissions that can be big problems with wood-burning furnaces.

Update: 2/18/2015

At today's hearing by the MN House Agriculture Policy Committee, the A-1 amendment proposed for HF 536 would require a project funded under this program to include in its plan "a detailed explanation for how agricultural cellulosic biomass will be produced and managed in a way that preserves soil quality, does not increase soil and nutrient runoff, avoids introduction of harmful invasive species, limits negative impacts on wildlife habitat, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

That sounds good, but how would it be possible for a dirty-fuel project to reduce greenhouse gases? And what kind of practice, at what quantitative level, would be considered a "limit" on the destruction of wildlife habitat?

"Sounds good" doesn't really count. It's still a dirty-fuel bill.

It would have Minnesotans pay for dirty-energy production and the accelerated destruction of wildlife habitat.

What's the upside? A subsidy for the logging industry. Is it worth the cost? Where's the cost/benefit analysis? Not yet attached to the bill on 2/14/2015. The House version is scheduled for a hearing next Wednesday, 2/18/2015.

The other two parts of this bill are at a more high-tech level, harder to see through, and also lacking a cost/benefit analysis. They would subsidize the production of fuel ("advanced biofuels production") and other chemicals ("renewable chemical production") from wood. At least the production of biofuels is regulated by the U.S. Energy Independence And Security Act of 2007, which requires them to have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions lower than administrative "baselines." We might have to worry about who's setting the "baseline," but at least there is one.

$2.5 million every year from the General Fund (MN taxpayers).

It might be an interesting hearing, or maybe just a glowing report without a cost/benefit analysis. Good one to watch.