The Biotechnology Industry Organization believes that fully realizing the promise of biotechnology requires a comprehensive national strategy that fine-tunes some policies and overhauls others.
BIO’s set of policy proposals address two vital needs: 1) the need to re-engineer the biotech economic model, and 2) the need to re-invent the idea-to-market pathway for biotech cures and other products.
Below is that plan:
Policies to Stimulate a Bio-based Economy
The “Bio-based Economy” refers to economic activity and jobs generated by:
- the use and conversion of agricultural feedstocks to higher value products;
- the use of microbes and industrial enzymes as transformation agents or for process changes; and
- the production of bio-based products and biofuels.
The proposals below seek to elevate the concept and awareness of the bio-based economy and highlight the outstanding job creation and rural/rust belt economic development potential of industrial biotechnology and biorefinery commercialization.
Reauthorization and Enhancement of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)
BCAP is the key program encouraging and facilitating farmers and landowners to produce new purpose grown energy crops (PGECs) for advanced biofuels and biobased products. Beyond reauthorizing the program through December 2017, we can further enhance it by:
- Ensuring funds are directed primarily to production of next generation crops for biofuels and bioenergy;
- Establishing a dedicated funding mechanism for awarded contracts;
- Providing for eligibility of non-food Title I crops; and
- Clarifying eligibility of certain other PGECs.
Federal Crop Insurance for Purpose Grown Energy Crops Currently, there is no formal federal crop insurance program available to producers of new PGECs. Requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to finalize its ongoing feasibility study of developing a crop insurance program for certain biofuels and bio-product feedstocks – and appropriately funding the Commodity Credit Corporation -would enable the formal establishment of such a program.
Feedstock Sustainability Enhancement Grants The continued development of domestic sources of energy, including for biofuels and renewable chemicals, depends upon the sustainable availability of consistent, high yield, good quality feedstocks. Establishing a grant program through the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy would enable the funding of demonstration projects that utilize practices to enhance biofuel and bioenergy feedstock sustainability.
Codifying and Expanding the Definition of Renewable Chemicals
Many of the programs in the 2008 Farm Bill’s Title IX renewable energy programs are not available to renewable chemicals and bio-based products, despite their profound potential benefits to rural America. Codifying a more expansive definition of eligible renewable chemicals and bio-based products would enable enhanced participation of renewable energy projects in programs such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program and Rural Energy for America Program.
Tax Credit for Production of Qualifying Renewable Chemicals
Renewable chemicals and bio-based plastics represent an important technology platform for reducing reliance on foreign oil, creating green U.S. jobs, increasing energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By providing a renewable chemicals tax credit in the form of a federal income tax credit for domestically produced renewable chemicals, Congress can create jobs and other economic activity and can help secure America’s leadership in the important arena of green chemistry. The credits would be general business credits available for a limited period per facility, and taxpayers would be subject to a competitive application and review process to ensure conformance with legislative intent.
Tax Code Reforms to Increase Availability of Advanced Biofuels and Facilitate Energy Security
Current tax law on advanced biofuels does not provide an ordered pathway toward U.S. energy security. Policymakers can help incentivize bringing commercial volumes of affordable advanced biofuels to market in the near term by amending the current tax code to:
- Extend the Cellulosic Biofuel Production Tax Credit through 2016 and add eligibility for algal biofuels;
- Allow advanced biofuel facility developers the option of electing to receive an investment tax credit;
- Provide for eligibility of biorefinery retrofit projects;
- Provide eligibility to federal Section 1603 Grants in Lieu of Tax Credits program; and
- Extend and expand eligibility for cellulosic biofuel property accelerated depreciation.
Strategic Biorefinery Initiative and Offtake Authority
Development of domestic sources of renewable biofuels and bio-based products would yield substantial energy security benefits. The Department of Defense is uniquely positioned to help accelerate production and deployment of these vital products through establishment of a Strategic Biorefinery Deployment Program to finance construction of the first five commercial military advanced biofuel biorefineries. Under such a program, a biorefinery “fly-off” would identify and fund construction of the most promising projects. The authority to enter into long-term (up to 15 years) offtake agreements for procurement of advanced biofuels for military use would further enhance the Department of Defense’s ability to facilitate development of domestic sources of renewable biofuels.
Repurpose and Retrofit Grant Program for Expanding Production of Advanced Biofuels
Repurposing or retrofitting existing idled or underutilized U.S. manufacturing facilities is one of the most time and cost effective ways to build out the advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals sector. Establishing a federal matching grant program through the U.S. Department of Energy to fund up to 30% of costs would facilitate investments in such repurposing and retrofitting projects while helping to rapidly expand U.S. production capacity for advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals.
Synthetic Biology for Enhanced Sustainability of Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals
The advancing field of synthetic biology has the potential to enhance greatly both the economic and environmental sustainability of fuels and chemicals manufacturing. Establishing a Synthetic Biology Research and Development Grants Program through the U.S. Department of Energy would support research that could help enable the cost-effective sustainable production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and other technologies that reduce or minimize greenhouse gas emissions, including biological processes for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Industrial Bioprocess R&D Program
The use of industrial biotechnology for the production of renewable chemicals and bio-based products is enabling dramatic improvements in industrial energy efficiency as well as a host of renewable alternatives to traditional petrochemical-based products. Establishing an Industrial Bioprocess Research and Development program through the Department of Energy would fund projects in industrial biotechnology for renewable chemicals, bio-based products, and renewable specialty chemicals.