July 15, 2006

CALIFORNIA: Governor Announces BioEnergy Action Plan

Plenty of lip service is paid to political support for bioenergy development throughout the country. As reported here, getting legislation enacted, investment secured, and deployment started is process frustrated by the many divergent societal and environmental interests that obstruct real progress.

Yet California's Governor and his Bioenergy Interagency Working Group have worked steadfastly toward identification of goals and enactment of plans to resolve impasses to real progress in the bioenergy arena. Investors should take heart in the knowledge that there is top down commitment to significant technological development within California over the next four years.

Gov. Schwarzenegger today announced the Bioenergy Action Plan which outlines ways for California to bring alternative energy into the mainstream and reduce dependency on foreign fossil fuels. He has underscored the need for a consistent and coordinated state policy on bioenergy.

Below are some specific targets for the plan.


BioEnergy Action Plan

On April 25, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-06-06, establishing targets for the use and production of biofuels and biopower and directing state agencies to work together to advance biomass programs in California while providing environmental protection and mitigation. The agencies of the Bioenergy Interagency Working Group (Working Group)1 are committed to seeing these goals met. This Bioenergy Action Plan (Plan) provides the specific actions and timelines that the agencies have agreed to take to implement the Executive Order.

In response to his Executive Order, members of the Working Group commit to the following near-term actions to achieve the state’s bioenergy policy objectives and biomass production and use targets. The Working Group will also work to secure necessary resources for the activities proposed in this Plan through the State Budget Process and pursue legislative initiatives needed to achieve the intent of this Plan. These actions will create the necessary institutional and regulatory changes that will substantially increase the production and use of biomass for energy in California in a manner that benefits the economy and protects the environment.

Biomass Production and Use Targets:
1. Regarding biofuels, the state shall produce a minimum of 20 percent of its biofuels within California by 2010, 40 percent by 2020, and 75 percent by 2050.
2. Regarding the use of biomass for electricity, the state shall meet a 20 percent target within the established state goals for renewable generation for 2010 and 2020.

The Working Group has identified the following two topics for possible legislative action during the 2006 session:
1. Amend existing law to revise existing technology definitions and establish new ones, where needed. In particular, review the definitions of gasification, transformation, fermentation, pyrolysis, and manufacturing. Such statutory clarification would enable the utilization of biomass residues through combustion or non-combustion technology.
2. Amend existing law to provide incentives to local jurisdictions for energy production activities.


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