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Biomass and Alcohol Fuels

It was found by Congress that the dependence of the U.S. on imported petroleum and natural gas must be reduced by all economically and environmentally feasible means which includes the use of biomass energy resources.  Further, it was suggested that a national program for increased production and use of biomass energy on a sustainable basis for domestic and export use must be formulated and implemented within a multiple use framework[i].

As a result, the Biomass Energy and Alcohol Fuels Act of 1980 was established.  It contained a program for the production, and use of biomass energy.  It also provided for the use of municipal waste biomass energy and rural, agricultural, and forestry biomass energy.

Similarly, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides that the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of the Interior may make grants to certain specified persons to improve the commercial value of forest biomass for electric energy, useful heat, or transportation fuels, and other commercial purposes[ii].  The Secretary concerned may also make grants to any person in a preferred community that owns or operates a facility that uses biomass as a raw material[iii].  The Energy Policy Act also authorizes a project to study the production of ethanol from sugar cane[iv].

It is to be noted that the Secretary concerned must select a grant recipient after considering[v]:

  • the anticipated public benefits of the project, including the potential to develop thermal or electric energy resources or affordable energy;
  • opportunities for the creation or expansion of small businesses and micro-businesses;
  • the potential for new job creation;
  • the potential for the project to improve efficiency or develop cleaner technologies for biomass utilization; and
  • the potential for the project to reduce the hazardous fuels from the areas in greatest need of treatment.


Further, the Secretary of Energy conducts a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application for bio energy, including[vi]:

  • biopower energy systems;
  • biofuels;
  • bioproducts;
  • integrated biorefineries;
  • cross-cutting research and development in feedstocks; and
  • economic analysis.


Likewise, the Secretary of Energy establishes a program to provide guarantee of loans by private institutions for the construction of facilities for the processing and conversion of municipal solid waste and cellulosic biomass into fuel ethanol and other commercial byproducts[vii].  The Secretary may also issue loan guarantees to projects to demonstrate commercially the feasibility and viability of producing ethanol using sugarcane, sugarcane bagasse, and other sugarcane byproducts as a feedstock[viii].

[i] 42 USCS § 8801.

[ii] 42 USCS § 15855.

[iii] Id.

[iv] 42 USCS § 15854.

[v] 42 USCS § 15855(c)(2).

[vi] 42 USCS § 16232.

[vii] 42 USCS § 16501.

[viii] 42 USCS § 16503.

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