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Federal biofuels policy should focus on helping companies commercialize promising technologies for advanced biofuels and bio-based products. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on October 21 commended the Obama Administration’s commitment to helping rural economies and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by building a robust domestic biofuel and bio-based manufacturing sector. BIO joined the Algal Biomass Organization and the Advanced BioFuels Association in a letter to President Obama thanking the Administration for the important programs announced today and outlining key policies needed to help companies bring advanced biofuels out of the lab and to the marketplace.
BIO thanks Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for announcing final rules and funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which will provide vital assistance to help farmers plant and harvest new purpose-grown energy crops. BIO also thanks the Secretary for the announcement of five new USDA regional Biomass Research Centers to develop advanced feedstocks for biofuels and bio-based products and applauds the statement that the USDA will, within 60 days, announce funding for five regional biorefineries under the Biorefinery Assistance Program. Since federal agencies and branches of the military are pioneers in adopting biofuels, BIO also thanks the Administration for efforts to increase use of biofuels in government fleets and for creating a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “The U.S. needs to rapidly develop and produce large volumes of advanced biofuels to reduce reliance on foreign oil. A comprehensive national policy is needed to drive commercial development of the most promising advanced biofuels and bio-based products. The programs announced today establish a strong advanced biofuels policy foundation. In combination with supportive tax policy, loan guarantee program reforms, and continued commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard, these policies will create thousands of manufacturing jobs for Americans, while delivering sustainable transportation fuels and products. Secretary Vilsack’s announcement today is another positive step in developing a concrete suite of policy initiatives to accomplish these goals.
“Right now, there are more than 65 planned and operating projects in more than 30 states seeking ways to rapidly scale up production of advanced biofuels and bio-based products. Already the industry has begun creating jobs and investment opportunities for industry, rural growers, and research institutions. Despite the rapid pace of technology development and the commitment of Congress and the Obama Administration, to date existing federal policies have been insufficient to assist the industry in securing capital for first-of-a-kind large-scale advanced biofuels production facilities.
“In addition to supporting the important programs announced today, we look forward to working with the White House and Congress to overcome the remaining challenges of the current economy by creating parity in the tax code among renewable technologies, retooling federal loan guarantee programs to accelerate construction of biorefineries, and continued commitment to the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
A recent report by BIO, U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production, projects that development of advanced biorefineries could create tens of thousands of jobs over the next few years and hundreds of thousands by 2030, contributing more than $140 billion in economic growth. The study also shows that advanced biofuel production could save a total of $350 billion in oil imports between now and 2022. Further, BIO’s white paper, Bio-based Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs, shows that projected growth in the bio-based chemicals and plastics industry, which are also produced in advanced biorefineries, can create thousands more jobs. This sector, which accounts for 4 percent of the market, already generates 5,700 direct jobs and is likely responsible for more than 40,000 jobs economy wide.
For copies of Bio-based Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs or U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production, contact Paul Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-962-9237, or visit http://BIO.org/ind/.