MEDIA ADVISORY - Bioenergy Facts

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 16, 2001) -- It is likely that PresidentBush and Vice President Cheney will include bioenergy development in their new energy policy.

Please find some background facts below.

Bioenergy Fact Sheet

1) Bioenergy is energy produced by converting biomass to usable products such as ethanol. U.S. biotechnology firms are developing new ways to make energy from biomass.

2) Abundant biomass sources such as corn stover (leaves and stems), wheat straw, rice straw, rice hulls, and sawdust—all contain cellulose. Cellulose is difficult to transform into usable products using traditional conversion processes that employ heat or harsh chemicals.

3) U.S. biotechnology companies are developing new enzymes, biocatalysts, that can turn previously unusable biomass into starches and sugars that are then fermented to make ethanol transportation fuel. In addition to energy, biodegradable plastics and fine chemicals can be made from these starches and sugars.

4) Biotechnology companies are using advanced genomic technologies, improved proteomics data and enzyme enhancement methods borrowed from drug discovery regimes, to revolutionize biomass conversion. These exciting biotechnology tools are helping scientists produce enzymes that can convert cellulose into starch and sugars without using harsh chemicals.

5) Enzyme conversion of renewable biomass is carbon dioxide neutral and does not contribute to greenhouse gas loading of the atmosphere. Production of bioenergy will benefit the environment by greatly reducing our global warming emissions.

6) Biomass converted to ethanol and other biobased products will allow us to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. The U.S. has an abundant supply of biomass in all regions of the country.

7) Enzyme biomass conversion technologies will help to provide farmers with added value for their crops. America’s breadbasket could also become the clean energy fields of tomorrow.

8) In order for these technologies to produce significant quantities of energy, biorefineries need to be built in our rural areas near the supply of biomass. These green biorefineries will allow companies to bring together many technologies in one place and to create jobs in the rural areas that need them the most.

9) A great deal of cooperation is needed to make bioenergy production a significant energy source. The federal government, universities, the national laboratories and the biotechnology companies must all work together to join biotechnology conversion methods together with new crop harvesting and collection methods. The President’s New Energy Policy can help accomplish this important task.

10) The Energy Policy Task Force led by Vice President Cheney understands the enormous potential for biotechnology to revolutionize the energy industry –just as biotechnology has revolutionized medicine.

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