New Mexico advances clean fuel standard

March 10, 2021
Could New Mexico be the next state to implement a clean fuels standard? Maybe—with your help. We explain more, plus have news from the Capitol on the COVID-19 response and the patent gap. (1,050 words, 5 minutes, 15 seconds)
BIO

Could New Mexico be the next state to implement a clean fuels standard? Maybe—with your help. We explain more, plus have news from the Capitol on the COVID-19 response and the patent gap. (1,050 words, 5 minutes, 15 seconds)

 

New Mexico advances clean fuel standard

 
 

A clean fuel standard is moving through the legislature of the nation's third-largest oil-producing state—here’s how you can help get this bill passed and improve the environment and economy in the state.

Yesterday, New Mexico’s Senate Fiance Committee advanced to the Senate floor the New Mexico Clean Fuel Standard Act (SB 11), which would require transportation fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon in fuels used in New Mexico by 10% by 2030 and 28% by 2040.

No fuel? No problem. If producers and importers are not able to produce sufficiently low-carbon fuels, they can purchase credits generated from any business in any sector of New Mexico’s economy.

Why do we need a standard? Clean fuel standards work. California’s standard has reduced carbon pollution by 38 million tons since 2011, avoiding $1.6 billion in public health costs, while Oregon reduced 3.1 million tons of GHGs in just four years.

It would also improve public health. Recent studies have shown that air pollution reduces life expectancy and increases the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

And it would have widespread economic benefits—making New Mexico an appealing location for biofuel companies to develop climate-friendly fuels, spurring investment and job creation when we need it the most.   

Read this statement from BIO and the New Mexico Clean Fuel Coalition. 

The next steps: New Mexico’s Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill yesterday and the full Senate is expected to vote on the measure as soon as today—but the clock is ticking with just ten days left in New Mexico’s legislative session. 

You can help get the bill passed—click here to let your elected officials know that SB 11 is good for New Mexico.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

BBC: Lab-grown wood could be future of furniture
A team of scientists at MIT is “growing the wood by using a 3D-printed gel to mould plant cells into the desired shape.” The “hope is that lab-grown wood could one day supplement traditional forestry methods.”

 
 
 
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Congress talks therapeutics and patent gaps

 
 

The busy week continues on Capitol Hill. Today, we have news from yesterday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing on America’s COVID-19 response as well as a bill that would address patent gaps. 

Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing, Examining Our COVID-10 Response: An Update from the Frontlines, featuring public health experts from across the country.

Familiar themes emerged. Senators focused on disparities highlighted by COVID-19, the safety of in-person school, COVID variants and surveillance capabilities, long-term health impacts and short-term mental health impacts, and vaccine administration.

Notably, several Senators and witnesses lauded the success of public-private partnerships to produce vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics so quickly.

Learn more about the COVID-19 therapeutic pipeline.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) asked what we need to do to increase access to therapeutics, especially for vulnerable and underserved patients.

“Therapeutics is one area where we probably have underinvested,” said Dr. Ashish K. Jha of Brown University School of Public Health. He said we’re “underusing” therapies like monoclonal antibodies, and we need to put more resources toward therapeutic R&D—because “the virus is not going away even when most of us have gotten vaccinated.” 

Meanwhile, Members of Congress introduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act of 2021, “bicameral, bipartisan legislation to close the gap that women, minorities, and others face when procuring patent rights in the United States,” according to a statement

Introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), the legislation would direct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to collect and report on demographic data from patent applicants, offering insights into the gaps. 

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: “The Biotechnology Innovation Organization believes that diversity is important not just as a matter of simple justice, but as a necessity in this competitive world. We cannot afford to waste talent, and must draw on the creative capacities of our entire population. That is especially true in the biosciences where the US leads the world in innovation,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. “The IDEA Act is vital to giving us a clear picture of where we are and what needs to be done to move forward. BIO commends Senators Hirono and Tillis, and Representatives Velazquez and Stivers, for this important legislation, and we urge its swift enactment.”

 

More Health Care News:

The New York Times: LGBTQ people face increased risks from COVID, but have concerns about the vaccine
“Evidence suggests that some sexual and gender minorities—especially people of color—are hesitant to get vaccinated due to mistrust of the medical establishment.”

 
 
 
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Ellen Ochoa.jpg

Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina in space, serving a nine-day mission aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1993.

Ochoa was born in 1958 to a Mexican-American family. “When I was in the fifth grade, I think I wanted to be president. I got over that by the time I was in the sixth grade. I didn't think that I would be an astronaut. But you never know how your interests will change…I started college interested in music and business, and graduated with a degree in physics,” she told Scholastic

Before she became an astronaut, she was researcher and inventor for NASA, working on optical systems for automated and robotic space exploration. She holds four patents, including a solo patent for an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern. She was also the 11th director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“As I look back on my 30 years, just having the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than myself and that brings benefits to people on Earth, I just couldn’t have asked for anything more,” she told NBC News.

 
BIO Beltway Report
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President Biden’s Wednesday: Hosting the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck at the White House at 3 PM ET

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House is expected to approve its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, providing an early legislative victory for President Biden. “Democrats touted the breadth of the legislation, which they have begun to frame not just as a bill to attack the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn but as a generational anti-poverty measure,” according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, we’re keeping an eye on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, The Path Forward: Restoring the Vital Mission of EPA.

Recap: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies held a hearing yesterday on FDA’s foreign drug inspection program. Dr. Mary Denigan-Macauley of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified about the program based on an investigation and recommendations published by GAO earlier this year.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the foreign inspections program, but many issues members raised predate the pandemic, notably the “uneven playing field” between the foreign and domestic programs. One major area of concern for members is the foreign inspection backlog exacerbated by the pandemic. The subcommittee members raised concerns about the backlog itself, workforce issues within the program, and the safety and reliability of alternative inspection tools, but GAO was only able to comment on its investigation and recommendations. 

FDA and its new commissioner, once confirmed, will testify before Congress later this spring for annual budget hearings before both the House and Senate’s Ag/FDA Subcommittees. We can expect the findings from this hearing to be discussed then, with more accountability for next steps placed on the yet-to-be-nominated commissioner. (ICYMI: STAT News looks at possible contenders to lead FDA.)

 
 
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