Committee clears funding for renewable energy efforts across Montana

Tester, Baucus say measure will help create jobs while expanding Montana’s energy potential

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – From wind and biomass to biofuel and even pond scum, Montanans have no shortage of ideas about how to create jobs and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by tapping into Montana’s potential to develop renewable energy.

They’ll get more help in their efforts when one of the bills passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee becomes law.

Senators Jon Tester, a member of the subcommittee that drafted the bill, and Max Baucus announced today that this year’s Energy and Water Appropriations Act  includes funding for several innovative renewable energy projects across the Treasure State, including:

  • Montana State University’s Algal BioDiesel Project in Bozeman – This funding will help MSU create biodiesel from algae that feeds on carbon dioxide emissions produced by coal-burning power plants.  ($750,000)
  • The City of Bozeman’s Energy Recovery Project – The City of Bozeman will use this funding to help build a generator that will turn naturally produced gas from Bozeman’s sewer facility into energy.  The City of Bozeman estimates the project will save Bozeman an average of $230,000 per year.  ($750,000)
  • Lewis & Clark County’s Tri-County Biomass Pilot Project in Helena – This project will create renewable energy for Helena using some of the 350,000 tons of woody biomass (such as woodchips and unusable beetle-killed trees) produced in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater Counties every year.  ($800,000) 
  • Headwaters RC&D’s Wind Power Exploration Project in Butte – Headwaters would use this funding to purchase reusable towers and wind gauges to measure wind speeds across western Montana to determine the feasibility of future wind energy development.  ($100,000)
  • Montana State University-Northern’s Bioenergy Resource Center in Havre – This funding will help MSU-Northern expand the potential for camelina biofuel development in Montana.  Camelina is a plant that grows easily in Montana and whose oil can be easily converted to biofuel.  ($800,000)

Tester just last week helped MSU-Northern’s Bioenergy Resource Center launch a new project to power a BNSF engine using Montana-grown biofuel.

“I want to thank both Senator Tester and Senator Baucus for including MSU-Northern in this very important bill. It will help us create additional solutions that promotes a cleaner, sustainable environment,” said MSU-Northern Chancellor Frank Trocki.  “The appropriation will allow us to continue our commitment to advanced, applied research in bio-fuel and bio-lubricant development. It will assist MSU-Northern to provide several alternatives for industry to use in all types of diesel engines, jet, train, marine, helping them to burn more efficiently and significantly reduce their carbon footprint.”

Trocki added that he anticipates a significant economic benefit to the growers of camelina in Montana and in workforce development for crushing and processing facilities producing quality, clean, and energy efficient bio-fuel for the nation.”

“This legislation is an investment in innovation, and it’s an investment in the future of Montana,” Tester said.  “All of these endeavors will expand Montana’s potential to become a world leader in renewable energy development.  They will save folks money in the long run.  And they make our country safer by helping cut our dependence on foreign energy.”

“All of these projects are good examples of how we can get the most bang for our buck and create good-paying jobs through renewable energy,” Baucus said.  “Montana has plenty of renewable resources.  Now we need to capitalize on them by investing in the home-grown research and technology needed to make them a bigger part of America’s energy future.”

The Energy and Water Appropriations Act must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the legislation, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.