April 21, 2009

California reform needed to spur investment in conversion technologies

Californians interested in supporting the clean conversion of post-recyclable waste streams into biopower and biofuels need to help support regulatory reform in Sacramento right now.

California is the crucible for this issue because of its proud history for diverting municipal solid waste (MSW) from landfills through reduction, reuse, and recycling. However there still remains some 40 million tons of post-recycled waste that fails diversion and ends up in a landfill. Why? Because the only conversion technology municipalities are allowed to receive diversion credit for is composting. However, there isn't sufficient market for compost (imagine saying that about affordable biopower or biofuels!). Excess compost gets spread onto landfills as alternate daily cover - so there is no true diversion.

A policy I advocate on this blog would allow municipalities to help meet their diversion requirements using their post-recycled waste as feedstock processed by new clean conversion technologies to create thousands of megawatts of green power and millions of gallons of biofuels.

It is incredible that, in a carbon sensitive world, there would be any opposition to such a sensible, regulated policy - but there is. That's why it is critical that new legislation, AB 222, which came out of the Assembly Rules Committee this past week, receive documented public support when the Utilities & Commerce Committee considers it at a scheduled hearing on April 27th. Late letters can still be important for when the fill ultimately reaches the Senate for a vote.

AB 222 will allow low emission thermal conversion technologies to make biofuels and bioenergy out of this waste. Antiquated regulatory definitions virtually prohibit the deployment of even demonstration size facilities for providing proof of concept and required emissions verification. Without the legislative reforms contained in AB 222, no state municipalities dare build conversion technologies to meet diversion requirements.

Below is an appeal for your written support to enable this legislation to reach the Assembly and then the Senate floor for a vote. Please follow the instructions for submitting a letter of support and fax it in today.

Letter from the Bioenergy Producers Association
From Chairman of the Board Jim Stewart

The BioEnergy Producers Association is pursuing legislation to expedite the permitting and implementation of conversion technologies for the production of renewable energy from the state's organic waste streams.

The legislation creates a new category in statute for a "biorefinery," which is broadly defined as a facility that uses "non-combustion thermal, chemical, biological and/or mechanical processes to produce renewable fuels, chemicals and electricity from any carbonaceous materials.

It will remove from statute a scientifically inaccurate definition of "gasification," which requires zero oxygen in the process and zero emissions from the entire facility, a standard required of no other manufacturing process in the state.

The bill, AB 222, has been moving forward very quickly. It came out of the Assembly Rules Committee this past week and was referred to the Utilities & Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on April 27th.

Its co-authors, Fiona Ma and Anthony Adams have asked for letters of support, and these letters need to be faxed to the Utilities & Commerce Committee before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21st in order to be acknowledged and listed on the Committee's staff report.

We would be pleased if you could submit such a letter. It should be addressed to Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, Chair, Utilities and Commerce Committe and faxed to Edward Randolph (the Committee staff member who is preparing the analysis of the bill). The fax number is (916) 319-3899. I am attaching a copy of AB 222 and a bill summary, should you need it for reference. We have a comprehensive web site which you may find of interest, www.bioenergyproducers.org.

Many thanks.
Jim Stewart
Bioenergy Producers Association
Chairman of the Board

Passage of the bill will:
• Expand the beneficial use of California’s waste streams, and in so doing, stimulate economic investment and provide high level green collar manufacturing jobs here at home, rather than exporting materials to the Far East, India and Nigeria, where essentially no environmental standards exist.

• Significantly reduce the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels and assist the State in reaching its AB 32 GHG reduction goals;

• Reduce statewide dependence on landfills and their associated methane production and waste transport costs;

• Provide alternatives to the open-field burning of agricultural residues and the agricultural land-spreading of biosolids;

• Promote energy independence and national security by enabling the in-state production of advanced biofuels, rather than importing petroleum from the Middle East or ethanol from the Midwest (one billion gallons in 2008);

• Reduce by up to 90% CO2 emissions from automobiles as compared to an energy-equivalent amount of gasoline,

• Help California achieve the goals of its Renewable Portfolio Standard, Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Bioenergy Action Plan.

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