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Will Congress focus on petroleum replacement alternatives this year?

June 29, 2010
During the breakout session titled "What is Congress Up To?" on Monday, June 28 at BIO's World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, distinguished staff from key Congressional offices addressed World Congress attendees to give an industrial biotechnology legislative update. BIO was fortunate to provide this unique perspective on industrial biotechnology policy to World Congress attendees in Washington, DC. Will there be energy or climate legislation this summer to accomplish the goal of reducing our petroleum use and to take advantage of the desire for alternative fuels in response to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico? The answer is a clear... maybe. The House has passed H.R. 2454: the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The Senate has introduced several energy bills and we have seen at least two different climate change bills drafted in the Senate. The question is, what, if anything, has the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate? The next work period, the time between the Independence Day and August recesses will be crucial. If the Senate does pass energy or climate legislation this summer, it will still then need to be conferenced with the House legislation. Both the House and Senate could have energy tax provisions to consider as well.

The bottom line is this, the legislation Congress passes this summer or fall should aim directly at lowering our petroleum use. That is the motivation behind enery and climate legislation at this time. While all renewables and alternatives have merit and are necessary for a low carbon future, the biofuels and biobased products industries are the only renewable industries that can impact our petroleum use in the immediate future and are ready to assist in accomplishing the goal of reducing petroleum use through renewable alternatives. Those technologies should be the driver for new legislation.