Development of the bioeconomy

By Dan Wilson - Contributing columnist

As the 21st century unfolds, America faces economic, social, and environmental challenges that require innovative systems of food, agricultural, and environmental science for answers. A key part of finding those answers lie in creating a thriving bioeconomy — a marketplace built on the necessary transition our society will need to make from traditional fossil fuels to fuels that come from renewable biomass and sustainable agricultural stocks.

Recently, a coalition of major agricultural groups launched a grassroots campaign to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove its regulatory roadblock to development of the emerging bioeconomy.

The Biogenic CO2 Coalition is a working group of leading trade associations and companies that support American farmers and the national “bioeconomy” that a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economic analysis estimates to be $393 billion, provides 4.2 million American jobs, and is the leading source of domestic renewable energy. The Coalition recently sent letters to 2016 presidential candidates urging them to support American farmers and processors by announcing their support of the bioeconomy and recognition that agriculture offers key solutions to energy and environmental policy challenges.

Under its recent Clean Power Plan and other policies, EPA has been treating farm products as sources of greenhouse gas pollution. EPA should recognize that farm feedstocks are not the same as fossil fuels or petrochemicals. When farmers grow crops, they store carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and when agricultural feedstocks are used for food, fuel and fiber, CO2 simply returns to the atmosphere in a natural biogenic cycle.

“The Biogenic CO2 Coalition has shared its concerns with EPA and offered our resources to assist with its deliberations, but now is the time to increase public awareness by formally launching our initiative,” stated John Bode, chairman of the Biogenic CO2 Coalition and president & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “We would like EPA to recognize, even on an interim basis while it continues to deliberate, the life-cycle benefits from crop-based feedstocks compared to fossil fuels and petrochemicals,” Bode continued.

It is the Coalition’s position that:

• Biogenic CO2 emissions from the use or processing of agricultural crops should be recognized as de minimis (or zero) under the Clean Air Act.

• EPA should retract its attempt to regulate “sustainable” farming practices as a condition to feedstock eligibility under its Clean Power Plan (CPP) rulemaking.

• Congress should stop the EPA from placing costly and unnecessary regulatory burdens on farmers and processors, effectively blocking American agriculture and bioeconomy markets.

To share your concerns with the EPA on this important matter, contact: US EPA, Office of Air and Radiation.

The agricultural sector is essential for ensuring sustainable, reliable, and accessible production of biobased products that: replace the use of petroleum and other strategic materials that would otherwise need to be imported, create higher-value revenue streams for producers in rural and agricultural communities, improve the nutrition and well-being of animals and humans; and provide ecosystem services such as ensuring clean air and water, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling to the environment and society.

Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!

By Dan Wilson

Contributing columnist

The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.

The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.

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