The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) praises the findings of a groundbreaking new report, Growing Energy: How Biofuels Can Help End America’s Oil Dependence, released on 2004-12-08. The report was prepared for the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) by the Role of Biomass in America’s Energy Future (RBAEF) project. It asserts that the United States “can replace much of our oil with biofuels – fuels made from plant materials grown by American farmers. These fuels, especially those known as cellulosic biofuels, can be cost-competitive with gasoline and diesel.” BIO supports the findings of the report and echoes its call for federal investment in construction of biorefineries to convert cellulosic crop residues to ethanol transportation fuel.
The Growing Energy report makes clear that using biotechnology to convert cellulose-containing biomass to ethanol motor fuel can reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy. New biofuels could be produced from agricultural waste products at a cost equivalent to the current costs of gasoline and diesel, while at the same time generating economic benefits for farmers and rural communities. Brent Erickson, BIO’s vice president for the Industrial and Environmental Section, states, “The path to a sustainable and secure energy future based on corn stover, wheat straw and other crop residues requires innovation. The biotech industry has provided a way to make ethanol from crop waste. Now we need new federal policies that do not focus solely on research and development but actually help get new biorefineries constructed and operating, and that will take a significant new loan guarantee program.”
The report outlines a plan for government investment of $1.1 billion for research, development and construction of demonstration projects in addition to approximately $800 million for development of biofuel processing plants between 2006 and 2015. BIO has urged federal agencies to include in the federal budget loan guarantees and grants for the construction of biorefineries and facilities to make chemicals from renewable agricultural resources. According to Erickson, “It takes seven to ten years to build the infrastructure to produce biofuels on a large scale. Federal loan guarantees are needed now if we are to start building biorefineries and producing fuel for American motorists. Federal loan guarantees are the best way to help build biorefineries without increasing the federal deficit.”
BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.
Source: Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), press release of 2004-12-08.