This week, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) introduced the Farewell to Unnecessary Energy Lifelines (Fuel) Act of 2017 (H.R. 3419). This legislation would repeal all Department of Agriculture biofuel and energy subsidy programs contained within Title IX of the 2014 Farm Bill. These programs include: Biobased Markets Program, Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Program, Biorefinery Program for Advanced Biofuels, Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Research and Development Initiative, Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers, Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Community Wood Energy Program.
Previous estimates found that eliminating the biofuel energy subsidy programs in Title IX would save taxpayers $694 million in mandatory spending and $765 million in discretionary spending over five years. The bill would also help level the playing field for all energy sources to compete with one another in the free market without special treatment from the federal government.
Nick Loris, Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy at The Heritage Foundation, expands upon the problem of favoritism in his 2016 report Eliminate Favorable Treatment of Biofuels:
"Over the years, federal policies have blocked access to opportunities, unnecessarily delayed projects, mandated expensive energy production, restricted choice, and given handouts to politically connected energy technologies. Politicians tout these programs as a way to usher in new technologies that will provide jobs and stimulate the economy. In reality, rather than providing an opportunity for all to compete, these policies allocate special benefits to the well-connected. Biofuel policy, through the farm bill and other pieces of legislation, has certainly been an example of such favoritism."
The Fuel Act represents a necessary first step in the process of rolling back the federal government's role in the forced production and consumption of biofuels. This bill would empower individuals including energy producers, farmers and consumers to produce, use and buy the goods and services that are right for them to the benefit of the agricultural economy as a whole. Loris continues:
"Reducing government intervention in the biofuel sector and agricultural economy broadly would allow the most competitive elements of the biofuel industry to thrive in a free market. Competition driven by individuals would drive economic growth and benefit all of rural America, not just those special interests that are well-connected in Washington."
***Heritage Action supports the legislation, encourages Representatives and Senators to support it, and reserves the right to key vote in the future.***