Making a Difference: AZBio Advocacy in Support of BioFuels Initiatives

When AZBio and AZBio Members work together with our partners across the country, we can make a difference.  AZBio member Robert Shatz of  Arizona CarbonTech Cooperative, Inc. shares a real-world example of advocacy and partnership in action.

Greetings, Joan.

I want to thank you for and AZBIO for your help in advocating for change in Washington that affects us here in Arizona.

In June this year, the Pentagon Budget Bill, H.R. 4310, passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee with a 13-12 vote and the House with a 299-120 vote, blocking the military from purchasing and investing in biofuels if they are more expensive than fossil fuels. The bill also exempted previous restrictions on liquid alternative fuels derived from coal and natural gas, which emit more carbon than traditional fossil fuels.

I emailed you and asked for your help, and you were in Boston at your national event at the time.  Thanks to you and your team’s efforts, Joan, the situation had changed by the first week in August. It was reported on Saturday, August 4th that in Washington, the US Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Finance Committee handed the advanced biofuels industry three of its most significant wins on Capitol Hill this year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in approving the 2013 Defense budget, added $100 million to the Defense Production Act “to build production capacity for critical defense-related initiatives,” which reflects the funding for the Navy’s proposed military biofuels program.

In Washington, the Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the fiscal year 2013 Defense bill by a vote of 30-0; and the Legislative Branch bill by a vote of 22-8.  Both measures will now be reported to the full Senate for its consideration.  The defense measures had been supported by a coalition of stakeholder organizations including Airlines for America, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Advanced Biofuels Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Farmers Union and Operation Free.  It seems that you had mounted a viable strategy with enough other organizations to turn the vote around.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee marked up the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, which included key energy efficiency and biofuels tax credit provisions.  Included in the bill are the Cellulosic Biofuels Producer Tax Credit (PTC), the Accelerated Depreciation Allowance for cellulosic Biofuel Plant Property, clean fuel vehicle refueling property credits, a two-year extension of the R&D tax credit, and an extension of the $1 per gallon biodiesel blender’s credit. The committee also added parity for algal biofuels in the tax extenders package.

Both the Appropriations and Finance Committee measures now move to the full Senate for consideration, and to conference with the House of Representatives to reconcile differences between Senate and House Appropriations. Votes are expected on the appropriations bills in September.

Thanks again, Joan, and AZBIO, for helping to pave the way.  The return on investment for my membership has been very high at AZBIO, and we hope to take advantage of the opportunity when the 2013 defense budget is approved next month.


Robert Shatz
Chief Operating Officer
CarbonTech Cooperative, Inc.
Tucson and McNary, Arizona


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