Why DuPont supports Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard (OPINION)

Source: By Jan Koninckx, OregonLive • Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2015


As an American company operating since 1802, DuPont has been part of the ongoing movement to create science-powered solutions that make life better for people and the planet we share. Today, we are particularly excited to be a part of the advancement of biofuels — cleaner-burning alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. These fuels hold such promise; contributing to our country’s energy security, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and strengthening America’s economy.

We first began our research into this technology a decade ago. Since then, we have advanced the biotechnology for breaking down plant material, built a demonstration plant to test various forms of biomass and have brought together growers, academia, government agencies, like the USDA, and custom equipment makers to perfect the sustainable supply of biomass as a feedstock. In a little over a month, we will invite leaders from around the world to help us cut the ribbon on a 30-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic biofuel facility in Iowa. It will produce the cleanest transportation fuel mankind has ever known. The cellulosic ethanol we manufacture at this facility will realize a 90-percent improvement in GHG emissions over traditional fossil fuels.

This step change forward has been made possible by a confluence of two significant events — one in the area of science and the other, policy. Advances in biotechnology have opened the door for a revolution in how we fuel our planet from renewable resources like plants. DuPont is a leader in this groundbreaking work with advanced enzymes that have the power to break down the powerful bonds in plant material. A process that takes Mother Nature ages, takes these enzymes mere hours.

But in order to direct our science at solving for our growing energy needs, we also need policy stability that gives us access to markets and an ability to compete fairly. The Oregon clean-fuels standard is an example of such policy. It is a forward thinking, long-term policy that provides businesses like ours with the economic certainty needed to support the commercial development of these new fuels and the science behind it.

British Columbia and California already have clean-air laws nearly identical to that of Oregon’s clean-fuels standard. These laws have already made significant contributions to reducing the environmental footprint for the transportation sector while costing consumers less than one-third of one penny per gallon. In Oregon, the clean-fuels standard will reduce climate pollution from fuels by 10 percent over 10 years — the equivalent of taking over 1.5 million cars off the road. State-level programs like this one are investment drivers, growing the market and infrastructure for cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels and encouraging investment in research and development.

Lastly, the clean-fuels standard is supported by a majority of Oregonians. Recent polling of likely Oregon voters, conducted by FM3 Research for Renew Oregon, shows that nearly two-thirds support the clean-fuels standard. The poll showed that voters from all over the state back our clean-air law by more than 2-1; 65 percent support keeping the law as it is, while only 29 percent oppose it.

With that in mind, let’s stop the debate and start moving forward toward Oregon’s clean energy future. The clean-fuels standard is law, it’s feasible and supported by Oregonians. Our business is but one indicator of a growing clean-fuels movement. Together, we can fuel a clean energy future for Oregon and beyond.

Jan Koninckx is the global business director for advanced biofuels at DuPont.