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House Committee Votes to Cut Mandatory Funding for Energy Title Programs

After a long battle in both the House and Senate, the Farm Bill passed Congress in February reauthorizing the Energy Title for five years, including $694 million in mandatory funding for bioenergy programs. Just a few short months later, a House committee has voted to roll back that mandatory funding through its fiscal year 2015 agriculture appropriations bills. The cuts were first revealed during House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee session in late May.

According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, under the process known as Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS), the House bill would fund Energy Title programs at $89 million for FY 2015 – down from the $147 million level provided in mandatory funding in the 2014 Farm Bill (a 39 percent cut). The cuts target three critical programs, with proposed funding levels as follows:

  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program – $15 million ($10 million less than Farm Bill mandatory funding)
  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – $30 million ($20 million less than Farm Bill mandatory funding)
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program – $22 million ($28 million less than Farm Bill mandatory funding)

The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill (with no substantive changes to energy provisions) on Thursday, May 29 by a 31-18 vote. The Senate Appropriations Committee also recently advanced its FY 2015 agriculture spending bill with a 30-0 vote on May 22. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill maintains the $147 million in FY 2015 mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. The Senate bill also provides REAP with $1.35 million in discretionary funding to support additional loan guarantees. The bill now awaits action by the full Senate.