Hope for Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a two-year extension of tax benefits, including the production tax credit for wind power, and credits for biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels production.

wyden-hatch“This markup will give the Committee a timely opportunity to act on extending a number of expired provisions in the tax code that help families, individuals and small businesses,” Hatch said. “This is the first time in 20 years where a new Congress has started with extenders legislation having already expired, and given that these provisions are meant to be incentives, we need to advance a package as soon as possible.”

“The tax code should work for, not against, Americans,” Wyden said. “We need to extend these tax provisions now in order to provide greater certainty and predictability for middle class families and businesses alike. However as we look beyond next week, it’s critical we all recognize and take action to end this stop and go approach to tax policy through extenders.”

A group of biofuel trade organizations have sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) encouraging extension of the critical advanced biofuel tax incentives. The incentives include the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Groups supporting the extensions are the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

BIO to Put Innovation in Name

bio-logoSame acronym… new innovative meaning. The Biotechnology Industry Organization… better known as BIO will soon become the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. This news release from BIO says the change is to highlight the scientific innovation the group brings.

“I’m pleased to announce that the BIO Board has approved a change to BIO’s name… from the Biotechnology Industry Organization to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization,” said BIO’s new Board Chair, Ron Cohen, CEO of Acorda Therapeutics. “Still BIO, but now with a name that better expresses the essence of what our member companies represent.”

BIO’s President and CEO, Jim Greenwood added, “This is a great move that will help clarify for policymakers and the public the heart of our industry – scientific innovation that will help to heal, feed and fuel the world. Each day, our members use cutting edge science and technology to deliver game-changing products, therapies and cures to improve the human condition.”

The new name will be launched in early 2016.

Ethanol Gears Up for Friday’s RVOs Announcement

epa-150Ethanol advocates are gearing up for Friday’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the levels of renewable fuel to be mixed into the nation’s conventional fuel supplies. The Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) are mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but the EPA has been tinkering with the amounts, which could put the biofuels industry in jeopardy.

Fuels America continued its campaign leading up to the proposed rules with a full page ad in the New York Times today and a week-long sponsorship of Politico’s Morning Energy. The ads both present the choice before the EPA: rural economies and American innovation, or oil industry profits.

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) also announced that Iowa’s entire federal delegation – including Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Reps. Dave Loebsack, Steve King, David Young, and Rod Blum – is joining ARF in urging the EPA to set strong Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements consistent with Congress’s intent when the law was passed.

“Farmers and biofuels producers have done their part. The EPA needs to do its part,” Grassley said. “The levels ought to reflect the reality of what can be accomplished in an unbiased way. That’s what the law requires, and that’s what consumers who want fuel choices deserve.”

Brent Erickson, the executive vice president of BIO, published this blog on Medium about the EPA’s choice and how the agency should follow the law:

Back when Congress was considering the RFS, oil companies fought tooth and nail against a part of the bill that I call the “Consumer Choice Provision” (CCP). This provision directs the EPA to set annual [RVO] levels based on the renewable fuel industry’s ability to produce and supply biofuels. The oil lobby instead wanted a law that would have allowed the EPA to set RVO levels below those in the statute if the oil industry simply refused to invest in renewable fuel infrastructure…

Instead, Congress designed the RFS to increase America’s energy security, lessen our dependence on foreign oil (which often comes from hostile regions), extend its commitment to America’s rural communities and green energy investors and innovators, and encourage infrastructure development. The RFS now supports more than 852,000 jobs across America. And thanks to the promise of the RFS, green energy investors have brought three commercial scale cellulosic ethanol facilities online, producing the world’s cleanest motor fuels from agricultural residue.

BIO to EPA: Issue RFS Rule Consistent with Statute

biologoThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued comments on the proposed consent decree to resolve oil industry lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over delays in promulgating final rules for annual biofuel volume obligations.

“BIO is supportive of EPA’s commitments contained in the proposed consent decree, which would establish definitive deadlines this year for EPA to take final action on the 2014 RFS rule and proposed and final action on the 2015 RFS rule,” Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, wrote in the official comments. “EPA should withdraw its proposed 2014 RFS rule and reissue it by June 1, 2015, to include advanced and total renewable biofuel volumes that are consistent with the RFS statute.”

BIO recently released an analysis showing that instability in EPA’s administration of the RFS is responsible for chilling as much as $13.7 billion in investments that the advanced biofuel industry needed to build capacity to meet the RFS goals. The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.

Biofuels Leaders Ask President for Meeting

A dozen organizations and companies representing biofuels interests this week sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting on proposed rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to come out next month.

fuels-americaThe letter comes on the heels of an analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showing how EPA delays in setting volume requirements (RVOs) under the RFS have resulted in the loss of some $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The letter was signed by BIO, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, POET, DSM, Novozymes, and Abengoa.

“The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President,” the letter states. “Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”

In addition to the letter and the analysis from BIO, the Fuels America coalition is running digital ads this week on Politico’s Environment & Energy section that say, “Will the next generation of biofuels be created in the United States or China? It’s up to you, Mr. President. Support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

RFS Uncertainty Chills Advanced Biofuel Funding

biologoA new analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) finds delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

According to the analysis, the industry has experienced an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment over the past two years as the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed setting volume obligations for biofuels under the RFS.

(EPA) was nine months late issuing the 2013 RVOs and is more than 17 months late in issuing the 2014 rule. Further, the agency has made cellulosic biofuel producers wait an average of 29 months (more than two years) for approval of production pathways. Currently, 29 companies have unresolved petitions filed with EPA and they have been waiting on average more than 32 months for resolution. A majority of an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment for cellulosic and new advanced technologies should therefore be attributed to EPA’s delays in issuing timely rules.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, notes that the situation came about just as plants were beginning to reach the commercial stage. “The chill in investment has had the heaviest impact on cellulosic biofuel developers,” said Erickson. “The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.”

According to BIO, the industry has invested more than $5 billion in first-of-a-kind demonstration and commercial-scale biorefineries around the world. The analysis finds that as of April 2015, there are five commercial cellulosic biorefineries with a combined capacity of more than 50 million gallons within the United States and registered to meet the goals of the RFS, along with several pilot and demonstration plants. Additional commercial biorefineries are under construction.

Iowa Gov Branstad to Address BIO World Congress

biologoLongtime advocate for biobased fuels Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will speak at this summer’s Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) World Congress in Montreal, Canada. This news release from BIO says Branstad is slated to speak during the July 20 plenary session titled, “State and Regional Approaches to Developing the Biobased Economy.”

“Governor Terry Branstad is a true champion of our industry and the creation of a national biobased economy. He has voiced support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, advanced policies at the state level for a stronger rural bioeconomy and supported more research to advance second-generation biofuels,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “BIO could not imagine a better person than Governor Branstad to kick off the world’s largest conference on industrial biotechnology.”

“Governor Branstad has regularly provided leadership in articulating the importance of the biotechnology industry to our state,” said Joe Hrdlicka, executive director, Iowa Biotech Association. “We’re thrilled he will have the opportunity to share Iowa’s vision at such a critical industry event with an international audience.”

“Iowa is the nation’s premier leader in the renewable fuels industry and is capitalizing on its success in agriculture and its research capabilities in plant, animal and human biosciences to build a thriving biosciences industry within the state,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Iowa’s bioscience enterprises are discovering the innovations that will spur future economic growth and create jobs, improving the quality of life for people on a global scale — Governor Branstad is poised to tell our story.”

More information on the conference is available at www.bio.org/worldcongress.

Pacific Ag CEO to Speak at BIO Pacific Rim Summit

pacific-agThe CEO and founder of the nation’s largest agricultural residue and forage harvesting business will be discussing biofuel feedstocks on a panel at the BIO Pacific Rim Summit in San Diego this week.

Bill Levy of Oregon-based Pacific Ag will take part in the panel which will explore the realities faced by feedstock producers in today’s marketplace. Panelists will delve into issues in production and logistics, feedstock availability, ability to scale, competing applications for feedstock use, and new markets.

“There are many concerns surrounding the economic feasibility of harvesting biomass for food and fuel. The biggest hurdle of biomass conversion is price and volume predictability,” said Levy of his panel remarks. “What Pacific Ag offers is a sustainable supply at a consistent price necessary for industrial uses of biomass.”

Pacific Ag is leading the biomass harvesting revolution and has been expertly handling biomass logistics for more than 16 years – longer than any other U.S. company. Today, Pacific Ag is the exclusive biomass harvesting and logistics company for Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol plant located in Hugoton, Kansas and is also working with DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol facility expected to go online in early 2015.

The “Feedstocks: A Global Comparison” panel is taking place Tuesday, December 9, at 8:00 am PT during the BIO Pacific Rim Summit.

Hear Biofuels Reps Talk About RFS Delay

epa-150Biofuels industry representatives spent Friday afternoon fielding calls from reporters to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency decision to put off finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard program until next year.

Domestic Fuel caught up with four of the industry groups, starting with Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), already posted previously.

Listen to the interviews below:

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)Interview with ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

Growth Energy
Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)Interview with NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel

On Monday, biofuels industry leaders will hold briefings for Capitol Hill staff and the media to discuss the implications of the decision and where we go from here. The Fuels America briefing will feature Buis, Dinneen, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman, and Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

EPA Decision Impacts Advanced Biofuels

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to hold off on issuing a final rule for 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues the atmosphere of uncertainty for the advanced biofuel industry, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

BIO logo“We appreciate that EPA will not be finalizing a proposed 2014 RFS rule containing a flawed methodology for setting the renewable fuel volumes,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood. “Unfortunately, the delay in this year’s rule already has chilled investment and financing of future projects, even as first-of-a-kind cellulosic biofuel plants are right now starting up operations. The industry needs a final rule that is legally appropriate and continues to support our efforts.”

aeclogoAdvanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman says that pulling back on the 2014 RFS rule is “the right thing to do at this stage in the game when it comes to preserving the integrity of the program.”

“While the cellulosic biofuel industry will not get the policy certainty it needs from this decision, it does suggest that the Administration is listening when it comes to our concerns about giving oil companies too much power to avoid its obligations under the RFS going forward,” Coleman added. “This battle was never about the 2014 volumes for the oil industry, and we appreciate the Administration’s willingness to pivot in the right direction this late in the game. The key now for advanced biofuel investment is to move quickly to fix what needs to be fixed administratively so we can reestablish the RFS as the global gold standard for advanced biofuel policy.”

abfaThe Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) president Michael McAdams says the announcement was a surprise.

EPA hit the big reset button. Given the fact that we are already at the end of 2014, we appreciate EPA’s recognition that the real importance is to set the program on a clear glide path for 2015 and 2016. The numbers do matter, and utilizing the actual production will be a positive step from what was a proposed. We appreciate how EPA recognized that cutting requirements for advanced biofuels would be a mistake. This emerging industry deserves better considering it has already demonstrated the capacity to generate 3.2 billion gallons of advanced biofuel annually. But, at least EPA’s decision leaves the glass more than half full and allow us to get back on track next year.