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Puzzling Course Change Could Be a Body Blow for Advanced Biofuels, BIO Says

The EPA&#39;s 2014 rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard turns the logic of the program on its head and jeopardizes the progress the industry has made in commercializing advanced biofuels.</p>

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and its advanced biofuel members will make every effort to correct a flawed proposed rule on the 2014 volume obligations for the Renewable Fuel Standard, the group said today in response to the official release of the proposal. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, released the following statement:

“The proposed rule released today turns the logic of the RFS on its head and could significantly chill investments in advanced biofuels projects. We will focus over the immediate comment period on convincing the administration to right the course on this policy.

“Over the past five years, the RFS has successfully opened the U.S. transportation fuel market to renewable fuels, encouraging significant domestic investments and the rapid commercialization of advanced biofuels. The research and development catalyzed by this program has given birth to biotech innovations for renewable chemicals and other biobased products. The current proposal would have the effect of closing the market to renewable fuels and undermining the investment community’s confidence in the program, starving advanced biofuel and biotech companies of the capital they need to successfully commercialize new and innovative technologies.

“The cost of complying with the RFS rose for some parties this year because they dug their heels in against allowing renewable fuels into the market. Other participants in the program have pursued a balanced strategy toward compliance. Attempting to lower the cost of compliance for those who made bad business decisions simply guts the program and renders it ineffective. If the rule is not modified, it is certain to reverse the advanced biofuel industry’s progress.

“Advanced biofuel companies have put more than $5 billion worth of private investment into this new technology so far, creating more than 7,600 permanent jobs. That investment has been put at risk by this proposal. It does not seem prudent for the United States to discourage this type of major investment in innovation and reward incumbent refiners that have been recalcitrant participants in the RFS program. We cannot strangle the advanced biofuels baby in the cradle.”