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US lawmaker to re-introduce bipartisan bill to get EV industry into biofuel program

Published 06/23/2023, 03:08 PM
Updated 06/23/2023, 03:31 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A charging handle recharges a Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle (EV) parked at an EV charging station inside a parking garage owned by the City of Baltimore, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Democratic lawmaker plans to reintroduce a bipartisan bill next month that would allow electricity generated from renewable biomass to qualify for credits under the nation's biofuel blending program.

The Biden administration abandoned a similar scheme over concerns that it could trigger lawsuits..

Under the bill's plan, producers of power generated from renewable gas and then used for charging electric vehicles (EVs) would be eligible to generate lucrative credits under the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard.

That differs slightly from the now-discarded approach that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had unveiled in December, which allowed EV manufacturers like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc to generate the credits.

"The manufacturers do not produce the electricity. It is the biomass/biogas industry that does," Representative John Garamendi from California, the sponsor of the bill, told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

"We know that the biomass/biogas industry can produce electricity in a way that is beneficial to the overall economy and ecology of the nation and the world," he added.

The bill directs the EPA, which administers the RFS, to implement the plan.

Under the RFS, oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation's fuel mix, or buy tradable credits from those that do. The new EV pathway would be a major overhaul of that program by expanding it to include stakeholders in the electric vehicle industry.

Garamendi originally introduced the bill in 2021, with bipartisan cosponsors including Representative Jack Bergman, a Republican from Michigan, and Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from Iowa. It did not receive a hearing when last introduced.

Garamendi expects similar support for the bill this time around, he said, adding that the bill is already receiving more support from industries including the timber industry, a potential source of the biomass.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A charging handle recharges a Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle (EV) parked at an EV charging station inside a parking garage owned by the City of Baltimore, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan

Groups including the Renewable Fuel Standard Power Coalition, the Biomass Power Association and the American Loggers Council have endorsed the impending bill.

The bill would also make biomass removed from federal forestlands eligible under the RFS as renewable biomass. Current law only allows for biomass collected from non-federal lands.

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