Report: Biofuels Can Aid in Energy Needs

Biotechnology Industry Organization calls for federal investment in construction of biorefineries. Compiled by staff

Published on: Dec 8, 2004

A bipartisan group of top energy experts from industry, government, labor, academia, and environmental and consumer groups today released a consensus strategy, more than two years in the making, to address major long-term U.S. energy challenges.

"Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges," contains detailed policy recommendations for addressing oil security, climate change, natural gas supply, the future of nuclear energy, and other long-term challenges, and is backed by more than 30 original research studies.

William K. Reilly, former EPA Administrator and Commission co-chair, explains that oil reliance will be something the United States is forced to face for a long time. Because of this the group is recommending "incentives to spur global oil production, to increase domestic vehicle fuel economy, and to increase investment in alternative fuels."

One of the commission's five recommendations include developing non-petroleum transportation fuel alternatives, particularly ethanol and clean biodiesel from waste products and biomass.

More funding needed for biorefineries

The National Commission on Energy Policy released another report on Wednesday - Growing Energy: How Biofuels Can Help End America's Oil Dependence. 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."

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, Biotechnology Industry Organization'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."