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American Biogas Council
Federal Legislative Regulatory Affairs FAQ

Q1: What branches of the federal government affect the ABC membership?

Q2: How is legislation passed through the US Congress?

Q3: How are regulations created and enforced?

Q4: How are government programs budgeted and funded?

Q5: What significant government programs currently affect the ABC membership?

Q6: What is the Renewable Fuels Standard?

Q7: What is the Production Tax Credit/Investment Tax Credit?

Q8: What are the USDA energy programs?



Q1: What branches of the federal government affect the ABC membership?

A1: All branches of the government affect ABC members:
  • In the US Congress, both the House of Representatives (435 members serving two year terms) and the Senate (100 members serving six year terms) have broad authority to pass laws affecting ABC members. Topics of legislation affecting ABC members can include environmental, energy, agriculture, defense, tax, and many more. These topics are overseen by committees of each house that has responsibility for them. In the House of Representatives, ABC members are often affected by the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, the Agriculture Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee (which oversees taxation). In the Senate, the ABC is often affected by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Agriculture Committee. At any given time, the ABC could be affected by any piece of legislation and any committee, but the preceding list reflects the most common areas of interest for the ABC.

  • In the Executive Branch, the ABC is affected by White House offices such as the Council on Environmental Quality, and various departments and agencies. Most often, the ABC is affected by the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Treasury, and Defense, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agencies and departments are responsible for creating regulations to implement legislation, and to enforce the law and accompanying regulations. For example, after Congress passes a law such as the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for creating regulations to implement the policies in the law. The process of creating and refining regulations is almost as important as the laws themselves, and the ABC spends significant time and energy engaging the rulemaking process at the various agencies.

  • In the US Federal Court system, laws and regulations are challenged in lawsuits. Sometimes courts re-interpret or selectively modify laws or regulations, sometimes they are upheld, and sometimes they are overturned. The ABC does not have a litigation group and does not currently pursue its policy objectives through litigation, but it is often affected by challenges to laws and regulations brought by other parties.
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Q2: How is legislation passed through the US Congress?

A2: Typically, legislation proceeds in a particular way referred to as "regular order." Bills are introduced in either the House or the Senate and then referred to the appropriate committee for review and amendment (sometimes called "mark-up"). They are then sent to the floor, voted on, and if passed sent to the other chamber for vote. If both houses have similar bills, or if one house changes the other's before passing, then the bills are reconciled by a special committee of key members from both houses known as a "conference committee." In recent years, this typical pathway for legislation has been largely bypassed, and laws have been passed via frantic brinksmanship between leadership of the major political parties.

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Q3: How are regulations created and enforced?

A3: Bills passed into law typically contain instructions to a particular department or agency to implement the law by promulgating regulations. The process begins at that agency or department. Various departments and agencies have slightly different procedures, but the process typically involves alerting the public that rules are being considered, contemplated or drafted, inviting comments, and issuing final rules. Complex rules or rules attracting controversy can go through more extended versions of this process, including multiple comment periods and circulation of draft rules. Once created, the regulations are usually enforced by the same agency or department. All activities relating to agency rulemaking are published each day in the Federal Register.

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Q4: How are government programs budgeted and funded?

A4: All funding for all government activities must be authorized by the US Congress. Despite the fact that the executive branch conducts nearly all of the business of the federal government, and has nearly 3 million civilian employees with an annual payroll of over $16 billion, the executive branch must rely on Congress to pay them, and to release funds for all other government activities. Historically, Congress has performed this function by enacting legislation each year for various major parts of the government known as "appropriations" legislation, or sometimes one large bill known as an "omnibus." Most recently, consensus to pass such bills has been difficult and Congress has at times only been able to extend existing funding through "continuing resolutions." The congressional budgeting process is separate from the appropriations process. While budget laws do affect appropriations and spending, they are not appropriations by themselves, and do not authorize spending.

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Q5: What significant government programs currently affect the ABC membership?

A5: The major US federal policies which affect the ABC membership are the Renewable Fuels Standard, Renewable Energy Tax Credits including the Production Tax Credit/Investment Tax Credit, various bioenergy programs under the authority of the Department of Agriculture such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program and the Repower America Program, and the various initiatives of the Department of Defense to purchase renewable fuel and power.

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Q6: What is the Renewable Fuels Standard?

A6: You must be an ABC member to view this content. Please log in, or join.


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Q7: What is the Production Tax Credit/Investment Tax Credit?

A7: You must be an ABC member to view this content. Please log in, or join.

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Q8: What are the USDA energy programs?

A8: You must be an ABC member to view this content. Please log in, or join.

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