Proposal to Place Biomass, Biofuels Under CO2 Emission Cap Is Based on Flawed Logic, BIO Says

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, October 22, 2009) - Treating renewable energy the same as fossil energy thwarts the goal of reducing climate change. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today reacted to the publication in Science magazine (Searchinger et al, “Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error,” Science, v326(527-528) of a proposal to count international emissions against U.S. renewable biomass production.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “Biofuels and biomass energy recycle atmospheric carbon, while fossil energy takes carbon that has been stored for millions of years in the earth and releases it into the atmosphere. The policy proposed today distorts this simple fact. It also fails to take into account that well-managed biomass production can sequester more carbon in the soil than is released into the atmosphere through combustion of biofuels and bioenergy. Biomass carbon can also be sequestered in production of biobased products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis earlier this year shows that well-managed cellulosic sources of biomass can actually take more CO2 from the air, and sequester it in the soil, than is released through combustion in automobiles.

“The proposal put forward today, similar to a previous proposal for accounting of lifecycle emissions from biofuels, would hold U.S. production of renewable energy and biomass accountable for emissions in other countries, limiting the ability of the United States to reduce its own emissions. This is a misguided policy proposal to protect foreign habitats by penalizing American farmers and biofuels producers who may be having no impact on land use practices in developing nations.

“Renewable energy should not be treated in the same manner as fossil fuels under any climate change cap and trade legislation or treaty. Rather, biofuels should be recognized for their unique role in helping attain a low carbon future. To date, climate change legislation being considered by Congress has focused primarily on limiting emissions from stationary sources such as power plants and factories. But we cannot have a low-carbon future without low-carbon transportation fuels. Congress should not be penalizing low-carbon biofuels, but instead should be rewarding their production since they can help reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector.”

BIO previously sent a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee members asking that biofuels not be subject to additional requirements for greenhouse gas reporting, since they are regulated under the Renewable Fuel Standard. A copy of BIO’s letter is available at http://bio.org/letters/20091001b.pdf.

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About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 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.

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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.