Renewable Fuel Standard: BIO Asks Congress to Maintain Commitment

Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate

Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels: From Ethanol to Advanced Biofuels

Written Testimony Submitted by 

Brent Erickson
Executive Vice President, Biotechnology Industry Organization

April 13, 2011

The Biotechnology Industry Organization ("Bio") appreciates this opportunity to submit written comments on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works ("PW") "Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable fuels policy and its potential to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and greenhouse gas emissions cannot be overstated.

BIO is the world's largest biotechnology organization with more than 1,100 member companies worldwide. BIO represents leading technology companies in the production of conventional and advanced biofuels and other sustainable solutions to energy and climate change. BIO also represents the leaders in developing new crop technologies for food, feed, fiber, and fuel.

Background

In recent years, the federal government has codified its commitment to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and green house gas emissions by establishing several federal policies and laws that further these goals. For instance, Congress created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 ("EPAct") certain volume production and usage requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard ("RFS"), and went on to enhance the RFS ("RFS2") and its requirements for biofuels under Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 ("EISA").

The existence and implementation of the RFS and its biofuels usage targets have served to create strong market motivation for investment in biofuels - particularly advanced and cellulosic biofuels. It has been an essential market signal and is the principle reason why advanced and cellulosic biofuels have continued to develop.

Today there are over 29 pilot or demonstration cellulosic biofuels projects in operations or under development in the U.S [See Appendix I for a list and map]. However, since the economic downturn beginning in the fall of 2008, it has been (and continues to be) difficult to access essential capital to support construction of first-of-a-kind advanced and cellulosic commercial production facilities.

Today's headlines about high gasoline prices possibly derailing the U.S. economic recovery [See Appendix II] highlight the importance of commercializing advanced biofuels as rapidly as possible. To achieve this goal, federal policy must help unlock capital for commercial advanced and cellulosic biorefinery projects.