August Is the Time to Reach Out and Meet Your Member of Congress

August 7, 2016 |

Brent-Erickson-jpgBy Brent Erickson

Executive Vice President, Biotechnology Innovation Organization; head, Industrial & Environmental Section
Special to The Digest

Members of Congress just returned to their home states and districts for the August recess to meet with constituents and campaign for the upcoming elections. You can be sure the oil producers will be seeking meetings with their representatives. But August provides a great opportunity for biofuel and renewable chemical producers to seize the day and to invite Members of Congress – as well as other general election candidates – to get a firsthand look at the technology progress and economic impact of our industry and meet the hardworking Americans who are building it. I urge you to reach out now and invite your Congressman and Senators to your facilities and offices for a briefing.

In your invitation to your Congressman, Senator, or candidate, you can let him or her know that you and your employees are among the quarter million U.S. workers employed in the biofuel and renewable chemical industry. Overall, biobased production contributes approximately $50 billion each year to the U.S. economy. That’s a sizeable portion of the $252 billion in annual sales of biobased products worldwide, but there’s still room for rapid growth. Worldwide sales of renewable chemicals and biofuels are projected to increase to $441 billion by 2020, with annual growth of 8 percent over the next several years.

You can also remind Members of Congress and the candidates that federal policies are important to help U.S. industry grow and compete for a share of the worldwide market. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been the most important policy for stimulating innovation in biofuels; stability in this program is vital to enabling advanced biofuel producers and industrial biotechnology companies to raise capital to commercialize innovative technology. The RFS also opened opportunities for policy development in renewable chemicals and biobased products. The 2014 Farm Bill, for instance, extended loan guarantee eligibility to renewable chemicals and biobased products producers, through the Section 9003 Program.

Please also ask your Member of Congress to support bipartisan legislation that will help our industry continue to be competitive. The Renewable Chemicals Act (S.2271) introduced by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and companion legislation in the House (H.3390) introduced by New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell deserve additional support. This legislation would provide a modest tax credit for a limited time to help renewable chemical producers start up production. The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act, introduced by Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Texas Rep. Ted Poe would provide renewable energy producers access to a tax vehicle currently available only to petroleum companies. These pieces of legislation deserve broader support, and your Member of Congress should know that they are important to you as a constituent.

You can find contact information for your Representative or Senator on their website. Offer a day and time when you extend your invitation, but try to be flexible and work with the member’s office to finalize plans. Even if the member is unable to visit your facility this month, he or she may be able to accept the invitation at some future date and will appreciate hearing the concerns of a constituent. Additionally, you will have made your voice count.

BIO is here to help you as needed. We can provide backgrounders on the pieces of legislation important to the industry as well as reports on the economic impact of our members. Government only works for us if we keep our lawmakers informed.

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Category: Thought Leadership

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