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USDA Invites Public Comment on Proposed Rules for USDA Renewable Energy Programs

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently invited public comment on several proposed rules designed to increase the production of advanced biofuels and the development of biorefineries. The programs are authorized under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (The Farm Bill).

The proposed rules affect the following three renewable energy programs administered by USDA Rural Development:

  • Biorefinery Assistance Program. The proposed rule will establish guaranteed loan regulations to develop and construct commercial-scale biorefineries and to retrofit existing facilities using an eligible technology to develop advanced biofuels. Under the proposed rule, USDA Rural Development proposes a rolling application process for the consideration of loan guarantee requests. The Agency will consider a technology that is being adopted in a viable commercial-scale operation that produces advanced biofuels.

    Under the proposed rule, the maximum loan amount will be $250 million; there is no minimum amount. The amount of a loan guarantee for a project will not exceed 80 percent of the total eligible project costs.

  • Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. USDA Rural Development is proposing to establish a payment program for eligible producers of advanced biofuels. To be eligible for payments, advanced biofuels must be produced from renewable biomass, excluding corn kernel starch. USDA would enter into contracts with advanced biofuels producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.

  • Repowering Assistance Payments. USDA is proposing to make payments to eligible biorefineries to install new systems that encourage renewable biomass energy use and replace fossil fuels. Under the proposed rule, USDA Rural Development will propose procedures for eligible biorefineries to receive a payment equal to 50 percent of the cost of installing eligible systems, up to $5 million, whichever is less. There is no minimum payment amount. The initial payment would be a percentage of the cost of installing eligible systems. The remaining payment would be based on the amount of energy produced from renewable biomass.

Additional information on the proposed rules and instructions on how the public can offer comments are available in the 16 April 2010 Federal Register.



Converting CO2 to liquid fuel with solar energy and find ways to cleanly convert coal to liquid fuel could fulfill requirements for the next 50 years or until such time as the transition to electrified vehicles and ultra high efficiency e-HVAC is completed.

Some fuel may be made from agriculture products and wastes but Earth may not be able to feed 10+ billion gas guzzlers and 12+ billion people at the same time.

However, solar and wind energy can be used for more than 12 billion e-vehicles + industrial needs + domestic e-HVAC.

There are no real energy shortages, now or in future years. Its just a matter of gathering it up and distributing it effectively.


I like your conclusion Harvey. And agree. The major problem is how to mitigate the number of consumers of energy. By this I mean stabilize Earth's population. This is a spiritual challenge more than a technical one. People need to learn that the ability to reproduce is not a religious quest. Children unwanted and unloved due to ignorance and lack of education is an abomination to evolution - and enlightenment.

While energy remains a huge factor in human growth, teaching the value of a single life is also necessary. To do this we must be willing to reject old mythology and customs and prejudice. I support efforts to do these things along with the effort to utilize only sustainable energy resources going forward. The two actions go hand in hand IMO.


The push to increase the population comes from more than just religion. Governments for example know they need a pool of citizens of working age to pay taxes. And as the current population gets older and lives longer they will need even more people of working age to support them.

Tom Watson

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