BIO Applauds Congressional Passage of Tax Incentive As a First Step for Cellulosic Biomass Ethanol Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 12, 2006) – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President Brent Erickson issued the following statement regarding passage by Congress of H.R. 6111, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act:

“This legislative package includes an important provision to allow accelerated depreciation for biorefineries that begin production of cellulosic biomass ethanol within the next six years. This is a welcome first step to incentivize construction or conversion of ethanol facilities to produce transportation fuel from cellulosic biomass through enzymatic hydrolysis. Much more needs to be done, however, to help reduce risk for pioneering companies who build the first-generation biorefineries that convert cellulose to ethanol.

“We thank Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for introducing this legislation that will save taxpayers an estimated $17 million over the next five years.

“Biotech enzymes have been the key to enabling the use of renewable cellulosic biomass in the production of ethanol. These advances have served to drive down the cost of this alternative fuel and spur initial investment in new facilities. This bill recognizes that the enzyme technology is ready today and is poised to grow in the very near future.

“This provision, if followed by other incentives, will help overcome the single greatest hurdle to commercialization of ethanol from cellulosic biomass – the construction of the first biorefineries. However, this emerging industry needs Congress to fund measures already on the books to accelerate construction of these biorefineries. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program and the Biorefinery Grants Program to provide the government assurance necessary to help refiners secure private financing for construction of the first new plants. These programs must be funded at a level sufficient to mobilize private financing.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.