Making Low-Carbon Biofuels a Reality in the Very Near Future

The Farm Bill passed yesterday by the U.S. House and today by the U.S. Senate will encourage biofuel producers to move more rapidly to commercialize advanced biofuels and help farmers transition to growing energy crops for a sustainable biofuel industry.

Biotechnology Industry Organization President + CEO Jim Greenwood today thanked House and Senate leaders and issued the following statement:

“BIO and its member companies produce the key enabling technology that will make low-carbon biofuels from cellulose a reality in the very near future. The Farm Bill passed today can help both biofuel producers and farmers coordinate their efforts to deploy this technology for turning crop residues and dedicated energy crops such as perennial grasses, trees and other non-food feedstocks into advanced biofuels.

“We wish to thank House Agriculture Chairman Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) as well as Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ranking Member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) for their leadership on the energy title of the Farm Bill. We would also like to thank Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) as well as House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Jim McCrery (R-La.).”

The Farm Bill includes an important new incentive for the development of cellulosic biofuels, which hold tremendous promise as a home-grown alternative to fossil-based fuels. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that became law last year calls for production and use of 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022. But because the technology for producing cellulosic biofuels is emerging, government assistance is necessary to help companies reach the commercial scale called for in the RFS. The Farm Bill contains a new, temporary production tax credit for up to $1.01 per gallon, available through December 31, 2012, with an estimated cost of $403 million over the ten-year budget window.

The bill also includes loan guarantees to assist the construction of commercial biorefineries for production of advanced biofuels. It also creates a Biomass Crop Assistance Program that will help farmers transition to growing cellulosic energy crops for these biorefineries. Lastly, it continues funding research and development into making advanced, low-carbon biofuels cost-competitive for consumers.

“The farm bill energy title will accelerate the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels technologies and will help ensure abundant fuel and food resources are produced by the nation’s farmers and fuel producers,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.

BIO supports the production of ethanol from all feedstocks. Biotechnology is helping to increase corn and soybean yields, convert corn starch and crop residues into ethanol more efficiently, and develop new “green” non-food feedstocks for low-carbon advanced biofuels. With ongoing advances in biotechnology, biofuels can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century.

The Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at http://biofuelsandclimate.wordpress.com/.

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