New Bioenergy Bill Will Enhance National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 8, 2005) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) strongly endorses the National Security and Bioenergy Investment Act of 2005 (S.1210), introduced today by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The bill’s findings cite studies by BIO, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Energy Future Coalition indicating that an aggressive effort to advance technology for conversion of agricultural biomass to ethanol fuel and biobased products is both needed and warranted to enhance U.S. national security interests.

“America’s growing dependence on foreign energy is eroding our national security,” stated BIO President Jim Greenwood, who also serves on the Steering Committee of the Energy Future Coalition. “BIO is an active participant in the Energy Future Coalition and we believe this country needs to undertake a major new initiative to more aggressively research, develop and deploy advanced biofuels technologies. With innovative technologies from the biotech industry, the United States can meet up to 25 percent of its transportation fuel needs by converting farm crops and crop residues to bioethanol. If we do that we can significantly improve our national security and economic well being,” Greenwood said.

The bill updates the Biomass Research and Development Act with the goal of rapidly boosting the production of biobased fuels at competitive prices, developing a broad range of biobased products that replace petroleum-based products, and expanding opportunities in the growing bioeconomy. The bill also establishes incentives to increase the production of ethanol from cellulose-containing crops and crop wastes, expands the Federal Agency Biobased Procurement Program to all federal contractors and the U.S. Capitol complex, and provides investment tax credits for the construction of biorefineries that convert cellulose to transportation fuel and biobased products.

Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial Environmental Section and chair of the Bioenergy/Agriculture Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition, added, “With new life science tools developed by the biotechnology industry, we can now utilize the millions of tons of crop residues -- such as corn stover and wheat straw -- to produce sugars that can then be converted to ethanol, chemicals and bio-based plastics. This is a significant technological leap forward in energy production. We are currently making about 4 billion gallons of ethanol yearly in the United States, but with the rapid deployment of new industrial biotechnology processes we could be making 100 billion gallons annually in the future. These new biotech tools can only be rapidly deployed if federal policy makers take steps to help our innovative companies overcome the initial hurdles they face during the commercialization phase of bioenergy production. This new legislation will be a big help.”

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.