Industrial Biotechnology Is Key to Achieving Energy Independence, BIO Says

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 3, 2007) – Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) Industrial & Environmental Section, released the following statement today regarding Energy Independence Day legislation highlighted by House leaders:

“As Americans celebrate Independence Day, they can expect to hear politicians of every stripe advocate domestically produced biofuels – particularly ethanol from cellulose – as the surest route to greater energy independence. We agree that biofuels can help America drastically lessen its dependence on foreign petroleum imports. In fact, ongoing advances in industrial and agricultural biotechnology can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century. And Congress could do a great deal to help American companies achieve this goal.

“What most Americans don’t realize is that pioneering companies around the country are right now planning to build biorefineries to bring cellulosic ethanol to the pump, if the proper incentives are available. Many of these biorefineries will be built through public-private partnerships, with industrial biotechnology companies at the forefront. Leading biotechnology companies and biofuel producers are major participants in many U.S. Department of Energy projects announced this year, including the recently named Biofuels Research Centers. Through their work, the first few million gallons of ethanol from cellulose will become available to U.S. consumers by the end of 2007.

“But a few simple facts illustrate the need for much more rapid commercialization of biofuels from cellulose. The existing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) calls for 250 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2013. However, capacity for cellulosic ethanol production from all biorefineries currently planned or under construction is approximately 128 million gallons.

“The ‘Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007’ recently passed by the Senate proposes a new RFS of 36 billion gallons, including 21 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel, by 2022. Under this new standard, renewable fuels would meet just over 20 percent of expected demand for transportation fuels.

“To rapidly achieve a level of cellulosic biofuel production that will substantially lessen U.S. dependence on imported energy, the biofuels industry needs continued investment both in construction of large-scale biorefineries and in ongoing research and development in enzymes and other biorefinery processes. Congress can help the industry in three ways. First, the proposed new RFS will help to create market demand for cellulosic biofuels. Second, a tax credit for pioneering producers would help the industry overcome the increased risk associated with bringing cellulosic biofuels to the marketplace. And third, development of infrastructure to transport, store and pump biofuels would help the industry bring the benefits of biofuels directly to consumers.

“We need not only a new renewable fuel standard, but also the other policy tools that will insure rapid construction of large-scale commercial cellulosic biofuels facilities. There will be considerable business risk for the pioneer cellulosic biorefineries and Congress must help insure that these risks are reduced so that we can meet the requirements of a new RFS. The Senate passed an energy tax bill that the oil companies derailed. Let’s hope, in the interest of changing our energy mix, the House will be able to pass a cellulosic biofuels tax credit and that the Senate and President will support it.”

For more information on cellulosic biorefineries under construction, please visit http://bio.org/ind/biofuel/CellulosicEthanolIssueBrief.pdf.

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry.

Upcoming BIO Events

BIO Mid-America VentureForum 2007
Sept. 24-26, 2007
Milwaukee, Wisc.

BIO InvestorForum 2007
Oct. 9-11, 2007
San Francisco, Calif.

Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
Nov. 14-17, 2007
Honolulu, Hawaii

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About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.