These microbes are eating up carbon—and making fuel

February 7, 2020
It’s the weekend, but we already can’t wait until Monday—because it’s the BIO CEO & Investor Summit AND we’ve got some big news you’ll want to get your earbuds ready for… In the meantime, here are around 970 words (just under 5 minutes) on a BIO member using microbes…
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It’s the weekend, but we already can’t wait until Monday—because it’s the BIO CEO & Investor Summit AND we’ve got some big news you’ll want to get your earbuds ready for…

In the meantime, here are around 970 words (just under 5 minutes) on a BIO member using microbes to clean up carbon emissions and proposed SEC rules that will help create transparency and protect investors in the biotech space.

These microbes are eating up carbon—and making fuel

We know we have to work together to clean up carbon emissions—but how?

This week, an innovative biotech company testified in Congress about their technology that captures carbon before it’s ever emitted and turns it into useful biofuels, explaining how legislation can help scale this technology to clean up some of the world’s dirtiest industries. 

The hearing: The House Committee on Energy & Commerce’s Environment & Climate Change Subcommittee held a hearing yesterday, February 6, Clearing the Air: Legislation to Promote Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage, to discuss the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, or the “USE IT Act” (H.R. 1166). The legislation supports CO2 utilization and Direct Air Capture (DAC) research, and facilitates the permitting and development of CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) projects and CO2 pipelines. 

Who testified: BIO member LanzaTech testified in support of the legislation, explaining how they harness biology to capture waste carbon from industry and turn it into fuels—which they used to power a Virgin Airlines flight from London to Orlando in 2018, the first flight to ever use CCU fuel.

The science: In their process, microbes consume carbon oxide (along with any hydrogen and CO2 present) and, through their own metabolism, synthesize ethanol or other products. The protein-rich microbes can then be converted to nutritional feed.

The application: LanzaTech is already using the technology in the steel sector—redirecting carbon before it ever goes into the atmosphere. The first commercial plant was commissioned in China in 2018; to date, it’s produced over 12 million gallons of low-carbon ethanol from steel mill waste gases, equivalent to avoiding emissions of 60,000 tons of CO2.

Why it matters: The USEIT Act’s investment in research and development that specifically focuses on carbon capture and utilization is a significant step in advancing this tremendously important avenue for mitigating carbon emissions from the industrial sector. By supporting technologies like LanzaTech’s, we have a practical way to support low-carbon fuel initiatives and clean up emissions from transportation, materials and household chemicals manufacturing, and more.

Read More:
LanzaTech’s Testimony on February 6, 2020

 

More Agriculture & Environment News:

Bloomberg: Climate models are running red hot, and scientists don’t know why
“Some produced projections in excess of 5°C, a nightmare scenario.”

 
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What you need to know about the SEC's proposed proxy advisory firm rules

 

We talk a lot about bad policy proposals that will harm the industry (ahem, foreign reference pricing for drugs) but here’s some good ones that might actually create greater transparency and help investment in the biotech space.

New rules recently proposed by the SEC will help make proxy advisory firms more accountable and improve the accuracy of their recommendations to investors. Since capital is the lifeblood of young biotechs, it’s essential the information proxy advisory firms provide to clients is as accurate and complete as possible.   

The background: Proxy advisory firms provide institutional investors with research and recommendations on proposals by management and shareholders. With the rise in institutional ownership over the years, proxy firms play a more significant role in the proxy voting process now than they have in the past.

The problem: As BIO has long argued, proxy advisory firms have a growing influence on the proxy voting process, even though these firms can be plagued with opaque processes and conflicts of interest that can harm emerging companies like biotechs.

Biotech companies have unique business models that are often disregarded by proxy voting advice businesses. Instead, proxy voting advice businesses issue one-size-fits-all recommendations, and companies do not have an opportunity to correct material errors or incomplete analysis in the data underpinning their voting recommendations. 

Proxy firms also have fundamental conflicts of interest such as maintaining a related consulting service that charges companies a fee to learn how to best comply with its voting policies and obtain favorable recommendations in the future.

The action: The SEC proposed several amendments that would require proxy advisory firms to provide greater transparency about conflicts of interest and how they make their recommendations. These recommendations are consistent with BIO’s efforts to reform the process to make it fairer, more accurate and more transparent.

Why it matters: If the amendments pass as proposed, they’ll improve transparency by requiring proxy advisory firms to comply with certain requirements for disclosing conflicts of interest, allowing companies the right to review and respond to recommendations, and requiring these firms to include the company’s response in the firms’ materials provided to clients. These amendments won’t diminish investor protections and, in fact, will help make sure investors are better informed.   

Read BIO's comment to the SEC.

 

More Health Care News: 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Man vs. Microbe
“The rich world has the scientific smarts to improve global biosecurity. And, in fact, there’s been real progress, with better information sharing and the introduction of improved gene-sequencing technologies. What’s missing is a long-term focus.”

Regulatory Focus: FDA Targets Faster Reviews for Biosimilar Supplements, Draft Guidance Says
“The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday published new draft guidance explaining how it will speed its review of biosimilar or interchangeable application supplements, which can be used to update the initial biosimilar approval when it is for fewer than all the reference product’s licensed conditions of use.”

STAT: U.S. officials lash out at the Dutch government for moves that ‘undermine’ pharma patent rights
“Late last month, the embassy issued a missive criticizing Dutch officials for plans to expand compulsory licensing and pharmaceutical compounding, which would ‘send a clear message’ to companies that patents in the Netherlands ‘can be undermined or circumvented for short-term financial benefits.’”

 
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President Trump’s Friday: Speaking at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit; the event is about Opportunity Zones and how to promote investment in low-income neighborhoods, but who really knows what he’ll talk about. Then, heading back to Washington for the Republican Governors Association Finance Dinner.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Things are relatively quiet on the Hill. Tonight, seven Democratic candidates will debate in New Hampshire.

 
 
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