DuPont severs ties with D.C. trade organization

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013

DuPont Co.’s biofuels division has decided to leave the Washington, D.C., trade group Advanced Biofuels Association, according to a company spokeswoman.

DuPont Biofuels yesterday informed the organization, a major player in the biofuels debate on Capitol Hill, that it would not remain a part of the group, company spokeswoman Wendy Rosen said. In an emailed statement today, Rosen said the company would focus its efforts on industry engagement that reflects “the broader, common priorities across all renewable fuels.”

The company’s most urgent priority, the statement said, is showing that the federal renewable fuel standard “is working as intended to spur private sector investment in renewable fuels, and no legislative modifications are needed to the RFS.”

“ABFA has done a good job of representing the drop-in fuel and other emerging companies in the alternative fuel space,” the statement said. “DuPont, however, has interests and investments across the wide spectrum of renewable fuels and the supporting value chain, from seeds and crop protection chemicals, to enzymes and other processing aids for ethanol and animal nutrition; from commercializing cellulosic ethanol to developing next generation biofuels with improved performance, such as biobutanol.”

The renewable fuel standard requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels into the nation’s petroleum-based gasoline and diesel. But a coalition of groups wants Congress to reform or repeal the standard after last year’s drought drove the price of corn through the roof and U.S. EPA gave final approval for a higher blend of ethanol to be sold and used in cars.

Spurred by the standard, DuPont last year broke ground on a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, that will convert agricultural residue into fuel. The $200 million facility is expected to generate 30 million gallons a year of biofuel when completed next year.

In an emailed statement today, the Advanced Biofuels Association, which supports having a renewable fuel standard, said it “appreciated DuPont’s past membership and wishes them the best in the future.”

“The broader industry trend of drop-in and cellulosic biofuel technology moving from the laboratory to reality endures,” Michael McAdams, the group’s president, said in the statement. “So, ABFA’s work will continue with our nearly 50 members who are designing, purchasing and building the capability necessary to supply America with clean, advanced biofuels.”

DuPont is still a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. It is also an active member of Fuels America, a coalition of biofuels, agriculture and national security groups that is advocating that Congress keep the renewable fuel standard intact.

Biotechnology Industry Organization President and CEO Jim Greenwood today urged the leaders of the congressional committees that have jurisdiction over the standard to reject any legislative changes to it.

“I would like to clarify that there is a strong consensus within the advanced biofuels industry that the RFS does not require legislative changes,” Greenwood wrote to Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking member David Vitter (R-La.), and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

“The number one thing Congress can, and should, do to continue to speed the commercialization of advanced biofuels, is to keep the RFS in place, as is,” he said.