Hearing to look at energy innovation, small biofuels companies

Source: Gabriel Nelson, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012

Bucking the skepticism about green businesses in the Republican-led House, members of the House Small Business Committee will gather this week to look at advances in cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels that are made from plants or waste.

Thursday’s hearing will focus on “new innovative technologies small companies have developed to produce energy from previously unused materials” and also “the role of research and development in spurring innovative technology within the advanced biofuels field,” the Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee said in an announcement.

The memo says the hearing, chaired by Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), will specifically focus on cellulosic biofuels, a variety seen as particularly promising because it can be made from corn husks and other plant materials, not just food crops.

A number of cellulosic biofuel refineries are now under construction, nudged forward by a rising renewable fuel standard and funding during the Obama administration.

Yet the industry faces a challenge on Capitol Hill, with two tax credits for its production set to expire at the end of 2012. Meanwhile, oil companies have sued U.S. EPA for ordering the industry to use 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels this year under the renewable fuel standard (E&ENews PM, March 12).

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, will testify at Thursday’s hearing.

So will the head of Greenworks Holdings LLC, a company that collects used cooking oil and grease and turns it into fuel, and Jerry Taylor, the president of a large farmer-owned fuel distributor in Small Business Chairman Sam Graves’ (R) home state of Missouri. With help from a four-year-old state law that requires all gasoline sold in Missouri to contain at least 10 percent ethanol, MFA Oil Co. sells biofuels that are refined nearby from Missouri farmers’ crops

That company owns the chain of Break Time convenience stores, many of which sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and biodiesel, which is often made from soybeans.

Schedule: The hearing is Thursday, April 26, at 10 a.m. in 2360 Rayburn.

Witnesses: Ralph Tommaso, CEO, Greenworks Holdings LLC; Jerry Taylor, president and CEO, MFA Oil Co.; and Michael McAdams, president, Advanced Biofuels Association.