Policy Corner: Biden’s Infrastructure Plan & the Biofuel Opportunity

On March 31, President Biden released the American Jobs Plan, a $2.7 trillion national infrastructure and innovation plan. In addition to a $5 billion increase in funding for other climate-focused research, this plan would invest $15 billion in demonstration projects for climate research and development priorities, including biofuels and bioproducts.

While biofuels were a part of the initial proposal under the American Jobs Plan, a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers have called for even more inclusion of low-carbon biofuels.

In a letter to House leadership and committee chairs, U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) asked for an increase in biofuels investments and tax incentives in infrastructure legislation: “Adding investments to grow biofuels energy infrastructure and incentives to further innovation and adoption of this homegrown American energy source would support the economies of rural communities across our country, encourage innovations that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and ensure that American farmers and producers are part of the economic revitalization that our infrastructure legislation will generate.”

During testimony from Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) stated, “As we are looking at transportation of the future, I think there is a real opportunity there with some innovative and promising new transportation technologies. I just want to say I encourage you to be prioritizing biofuel producers in those conversations. They are ready and willing to come to the table on those. They have a clean, renewable source of fuel for Americans and the world.”

Indeed, there is a tremendous opportunity for biofuels, like bioethanol, to take a central role in helping the nation upgrade its infrastructure, address climate change and support rural communities. Earlier this year, a new report from the Rhodium Group, a leading independent climate analysis firm, showed that low-carbon biofuels will play a key role in achieving the administration’s goal to cut GHG emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that bio-based fuels are expected to contribute more to reducing global emissions in the decades ahead than any other technology.

At the Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference, EPA Administrator Michael Regan signaled his support for biofuels. “Renewable fuels are part of the solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Over the past decade the RFS program has played an essential role in driving the development and use of cleaner biofuels. That will continue during the Biden-Harris administration,” said Regan.  “I see ethanol as a significant part of a clean fuel future.”

“Renewable fuels are part of the solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Over the past decade the RFS program has played an essential role in driving the development and use of cleaner biofuels. That will continue during the Biden-Harris administration.”

Michael Regan, EPA Administrator

Research and development and continuous innovation has fueled great environmental progress, allowing biofuel producers and farmers to ramp up production year after year—without?expanding their environmental footprint. Since 2007, bioethanol has been responsible for cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 600 million metric tons in the U.S., or the equivalent of removing 130 million cars from the road, roughly half of our nation’s fleet. Biofuels can help reduce emissions today, and the innovations being driven by biofuel producers and farmers will continue to reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fuels.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm agreed that biofuels of today have already created significant emissions reductions in the transportation sector: “We have got a whole biofuels and bioenergy team that is working on this. You mentioned the Argonne study. I am glad that you asked about this. Electric vehicles have emerged as this great technology for light-duty vehicles and cars and SUVs and pickups, but the heaviest duty transportation modes that really need the energy density of liquid fuels, which is where biofuels will play a critical role.”

Investments in the biofuels sector represent investments in good-paying, green jobs, which is critical to the prosperity of our nation’s rural communities. Regarding the American Jobs Plan, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated: “And true to his commitment to invest in American manufacturing and working families, the President’s plan makes once-in-a-lifetime investments to retool and revitalize American manufacturers and small businesses. This investment in manufacturing will allow an expansion of bio-based products and renewable fuel production, giving U.S. growers and producers another market for their goods and supporting good-paying American jobs.”

With the competing priorities facing our country’s leaders and very slim majorities in the House and Senate, it’s difficult to know if a comprehensive infrastructure package will pass both chambers and make it to the President’s desk for his signature. But as long as there is a package that is being debated, POET will advocate for more biofuels support to be included. We stand ready to work with the Biden administration and leaders in Congress to ensure low-carbon biofuels, like bioethanol, are an integral part of efforts to address climate change, reduce transportation emissions, improve air quality and create economic opportunities in rural America. 




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