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Industrial & Environmental: Let’s Take a Look Back at 2016

December 21, 2016
2016 was a year of challenges and accomplishments for the Industrial Biotechnology Industry. Several issues, especially the Renewable Fuel Standard, were up for discussion and debate.

Below are 5 noteworthy Industrial Biotechnology events that happened in 2016, making it a memorable year for the industry.

  1. Renewable Fuel Standard – After MUCH delay, the US Environmental Protection Agency finally released the 2017 renewable fuel volume obligations (and the 2018 volume obligations for biomass-based diesel) on November 22, 2016. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.28 billion gallons, of which 4.28 billion gallons is advanced biofuel and 311 million gallons is cellulosic biofuel. The implied RVO for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol will be 15 billion gallons—up from the 14.8 billion gallons proposed in May 2016. For more information and infographics read Biofuels Digest's piece Back on Track: EPA Issues On-Time, Robust Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes for 2017-18. Also read BIO's release: BIO Welcomes EPA’s Final 2017 Renewable Fuel Standards.

  2. USDA Highlights a Growing Biobased Products Industry - On October 03, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report which analyzed the economic impact of the biobased products sector from 2013-2014. The report showed that in 2014, the biobased products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs to America's recovering economy. The report also indicated that the sector grew from 2013 to 2014, creating or supporting an additional 220,000 jobs and $24 billion over that period. On a similar note, BIO released a report titled "Advancing the Biobased Economy: Renewable Chemical Biorefinery Commercialization, Progress, and Market Opportunities, 2016 and Beyond" which reviews the current renewable chemicals biorefineries in operation.

  3. Aviation Biofuels - On March 11, 2016, United Airlines announced that it began regularly using biofuel on its LA to San Francisco route. The Boeing 737 jet flies the LA to San Francisco route four to five times a day, and is fueled by a blend of 30% biofuel and 70% petroleum fuel. United also announced that it planned to continue using the biofuel in its regular operations at Los Angeles International Airport. For more information read the Washington Post's "United Airlines is Flying on Biofuels. Here’s Why That’s a Really Big Deal."

  4. Bioenergy Tax Credits - Several major biofuel and renewable energy incentives will sunset and have to wait for a tax-reform bill next year to see if they will be renewed. The Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property are naming a few of these tax credits that are vital to the industrial biotechnology industry. An overview of all the renewable energy tax credits can be found here. BIO's letter to Congress urging the advancement of these bioenergy tax credits can be found here: "BIO Asks Congress to Extend Critical Bioenergy Tax Credits During Lame-Duck. Lastly, the House Ways and Means Republicans released its tax reform blueprint -“Better Way for Tax Reform.” 

  5. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) ReformOn June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Nation’s primary chemicals management law. The new law includes such improvements as: 1) Mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines; 2) New risk-based safety standard; 3) Increased public transparency for chemical information; and 4) Consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law. For more information on the law visit the EPA's site here. Lastly, on November 29, the EPA announced the first 10 chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. Read more here