The manager's amendment to the House health care reform bill was released late Tuesday. While most of the amendment is fairly standard stuff, there is one very strange new section added on page 14. It is Sec. 555. “Second Generation Biofuel Producer Credit.”
That is right. The health care reform will be used as a vehicle to change the tax credit treatment of cellulosic biofuel. Ironically, this means development of second generation biofuel will be overseen by the Secretary of HHS, although they must consult with the Secretary of Energy and head of the EPA on the matter.
While this is not my expertise, it seems the amendment would allow the tax credits meant to encourage the develop of cellulosic ethanol to be used to help develop multiple types of “second generation biofuels.” That would include biofuels made from cultivated algae or cynobacteria. At first glance, this seems like a good thing. The more possible routes explored the better chance of finding one that works. I've seen research indicating that hydrocarbons produced by cultivated algae may have greater potential as a economically viable future biofuel than cellulosic ethanol. Of course, this is not my expertise, so there might (and probably is) some huge industry give away that I'm missing. It does leave me wondering, though, who is/are the vote/votes this section might help gain for the overall health care reform package?