Using industrial biotechnology to manufacture plastics and chemicals from renewable resources can save much-needed American jobs, enhance U.S. economic competitiveness, and reduce reliance of foreign oil, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
The group joined 32 renewable chemicals producers and allied trade organizations in asking Congress to include a production tax credit for biobased products in the "Domestic Manufacturing and Energy Jobs Act of 2010," currently being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee, and the "Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010" (S. 3738), currently being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
"The United States has an opportunity to become the world leader in meeting growing market demand for renewable materials. Biotechnology developed by U.S. companies enables the production of plastics, chemicals, and fuels from renewable resources," said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIOs Industrial & Environmental Section.
"These innovations could revitalize U.S. manufacturing and generate tens of thousands of jobs over the next few years, " adds Erickson. " Half the value of a barrel of oil comes from chemicals, and this technology can help replace the approximately 30 billion gallons of oil used annually in the U.S. for chemicals and plastics. Therefore, deploying this technology could also improve U.S. economic competitiveness, while significantly reducing reliance on imported oil."
The letters released on Dec. 1 note, "The biobased products industry currently faces significant hurdles in reaching the economies of scale achieved by today's petroleum-based products and in competing with the existing petroleum-based plastics industry. While U.S. policy has appropriately encouraged and supported the development of the biofuels sector to the benefit of rural economies, the environment, and national security, Federal tax policy has largely failed to recognize and foster the substantial benefits provided by non-fuel renewable chemicals and biobased products."
Erickson concluded, "BIO and its member companies stand ready to deploy industrial biotechnology that will enable the U.S. to become the market leader in renewables. We ask Congressional leaders to create a level playing field for biobased products by granting them tax credits equal to those existing for other renewables."
BIO's white paper, "Biobased Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs", shows that projected growth in the biobased chemicals and plastics industry, which are also produced in advanced biorefineries, can create thousands more jobs. While accounting for only 4% of the market, this sector already generates 5,700 direct jobs and is likely responsible for more than 40,000 jobs economy wide.