Bioeconomy policy for 2015: US elections, what happened, what now.

November 11, 2014 |

To open ABLC Next, what we like to call the “heads of the 7 families” — or in this case, the heads of seven key trade associations for the advanced bioeconomy, joined us on stage as we looked at the impact of the recent US midterm elections — and the policy outlook in 2015 and beyond.

Our guides:

Mike McAdams, President, the Advanced Biofuels Association
Matt Carr, Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization
Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council
Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President, BIO; head, Industrial & Environmental Section
Kathleen Roberts, Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group
Corinne Young Chief Advocate, Rechem Alliance
Ann Steckel, Vice President, Federal Affairs, Nat’l Biodiesel Board

Mike McAdams, President, the Advanced Biofuels Association

Successes: no RFS repeal legislation, Pathways II rule, $210 million in DPA grants, DOE biorefinery rule ($ for algae and biorefinery), USDA loan guarantees issued.

But: RVOs not finalized for 2014, 34 Pending Pathways, no clarity on procurement, no DOE loan guarantee $, no rules for farm bill energy.

2015. Changes in Congress are significant; Inhofe to chair EPW, oversight will be stepped up. Boxer and Reid are not in control, Clean AIr Act amendments possible

Coming challenge: trying to maintain what we have

RFS? Likely that RFS will be reformed, especially in light of election results; will try to reform ethanol mandates in marketplace

Why Bio? Diversifies portfolio, and for those who have belief in climate change, they provide sustainable solutions for boats and airplanes

Matt Carr, Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization

Technology Maturation. Integrated biorefinery demos operating in FL, NM, pilot demos throughout the world. Cellana, RAE offftake agmts with Neste Oil

Product Diversification: Synthetic Genomics/ADM to produce algae-based omega-3s

Globalization: Sapphire – china, Solazyme – Brazil, Heliae – Japan

Key Issues. Support for CO2 Utilization n EPA Clean Power Plan. DOE Funding. Strong Stable Biofuels Policy and RFS. Tax code issues. Algae as Agriculture

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council

The Good News: Cellulosic EtOH Commercial deployment underway, Abengoa, Quad County, POET-DSM, Dupont, etc, 7 years after bill signed, 4 years after final rules completed. Political path for RFS opponents is as clear as mud. Our industry is now very engaged politically

Not So Good News. Obama administration trying to allow “distribution capacity” to be a cause for the RFS waiver. Would be a wayward step for the innovation/carbon prez that will not stand the test of time

Key Questions Moving Forward. Will Obama Adm reverse damage that’s been done by its own 2014 RVO? How active will republicans be? – tough. Will the biofuel industry continue to come together?

Is there a fundamental divide between fuels and chemicals? Yes and no, there’s no divide but need to be careful about big oil trying to meet its personal interests by expanding scope

RFS? We will be the first to the table if there’s real reform that’s going to happen, but we won;t set the table for our opponents.

Why Bio? Traditional fossil industry needs us, need outlet for CO2,

Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President, BIO; head, Industrial & Environmental Section

Political Headwinds in 2015 – trouble ahead. House and Senate in Republican Hands. White House Commitment to biofuels is uncertain. Will the RFS end up in court? Tax reform uncertain

Continuing mission: Farm Bill implementation ongoing. Defense biofuels/MOU funding and continuously. Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act (in play)

RFS: It’s easier to kill legislation than get it passed in the Senate. The industry needs 41 votes there to block.

Why Bio? China and India is going to grow and the price of oil is going to go right back up so we need the diversity

Overall message: It’s not just about biofuels –it’s the biobased economy

Look for: Bio’s Pacific Rim Summit coming in December, in San Diego.

Ann Steckel, Vice President, Federal Affairs, Nat’l Biodiesel Board

The immediate outlook: Focusing on Tax Issues, House takes a piecemeal approach to tax extenders. The House may only do a 2014 (one year) extenders bill. Good chance that cellulosic ethanol will be included because of bipartisan support across the country

Is there a fundamental divide between fuels and chemicals? No

RFS? Lots of upcoming discussion about reform; another election, presidential, is coming soon, this is a short amount of time – a lot of talk but not a lot of action

Why Bio? We need to diversify, prices of oil are certainly going to go back up, biodiesel is a growing market

Kathleen Roberts, Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group

Talking about TSCA – The Toxic Substances Control Act. Affects all food/other chemicals, including biobased chemicals.

Recent talk about TSCA reform, but has never been reformed since passed in 1976

RFS: Big oil is expanding its portfolio, is supportive of biobased chemicals but they are still in the petroleum market

Why Bio? This drop in prices won’t last, and need new renewable products that are sustainable

Corinne Young Chief Advocate, Re:chem Alliance

Divide between biochemical and biofuels? No divide in common need and opportunity, but there is a divide in policy

The need: The need for more energy efficient products

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