Sens. Carper, Coons Cosponsor New Bio-Based Manufacturing Initiative

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) cosponsored legislation to support the expansion of renewable chemicals and the bio-based manufacturing industry, using agriculture goods to make value-added products and create jobs. The Grow It Here, Make It Here Bio-Based Manufacturing Act would expand the definitions of bio-refinery facilities in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biorefinery Loan Guarantee program and strengthen the USDA Biomass Research and Development Initiative, helping to bring bio-based products like renewable chemicals and fibers to market while creating thousands of high-quality jobs in the bio-manufacturing sector and reducing our dependence on oil. The bill was introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Bio-based manufacturing represents an emerging sector with significant economic growth opportunities for rural America, by both creating new markets for farmers while creating new manufacturing jobs across America in rural and urban areas alike. According to a recent Department of Agriculture study, the bio-based plastic and chemical products industry could create over 100,000 American jobs – and many in rural America. By creating new manufacturing uses for agricultural products and encouraging the growth of bio-based products like DuPont’s SORONA – a renewably sourced fiber used to make carpet – and SUSTERRA – a renewably sourced liquid used to make runway de-icing fluid – companies will continue to invest in locally-grown, renewable resources and materials, which strengthen our nation’s growing manufacturing sector.

“The Grow It Here, Make It Here Bio-Based Manufacturing Act builds on our existing efforts to create and manufacture next-generation products once again in this country,” said Sen. Carper. “By using existing funds and resources to bring renewable chemicals and bio-based products to market, this forward-thinking bill will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our environment and public health by curbing harmful air pollution, and create thousands of quality jobs from Sussex County to New Castle County and throughout the nation. The resurgence in our manufacturing industry, as well as an increase in our agricultural exports, is leading our economic recovery, and this bill continues that momentum by bringing these two industries together in powerful and productive partnership. Not only would these initiatives help put Americans back to work, but they position our nation and emerging workforce for long-term economic success.”

“New clean energy technologies will help create high-quality, middle-class jobs at home, while also increasing our national security and the sustainability of our environment,” Sen. Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said. “When we look at the future of our nation’s manufacturing sector, bio-based materials and advanced biofuels are areas with great potential for expansion. The Grow It Here, Make It Here Bio-Based Manufacturing Act is just the type of next-generation, synergistic proposal that can boost domestic investments in bio-based manufacturing, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to see that more American innovations are not only made here in America, but manufactured in Delaware.”

About the Grow it Here, Make it Here Act:

  • Strengthens the Biopreferred Program which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agriculture materials, and provides a preference for these products for government purchases. Her initiative also calls for greater accountability in the initiative, including auditing and compliance activities to ensure the integrity of the certified label. USDA’s Biopreferred Program offers over 8,900 bio-based products.
  • Spurs the commercialization of new agricultural innovations by streamlining and focusing resources to help new bio-based projects move from the development to the commercialization phase, also known as the “valley of death” since far too many good ideas do not make it out of this phase. Her initiative focuses the USDA’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative on the commercialization of bio-based products-bridging this gap to help accelerate the bio-based industry.
  • Increases access to capital for bio-based manufacturers by expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program, so bio-based manufacturers have access to loans to help finance new operations or expand existing ones.

Using American-grown bio-based products displaces foreign petroleum, reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. This redirects investment into domestic operations rather than sending wealth abroad (often to nations hostile to America’s interests) and strengthens American manufacturing and agriculture. Currently, bio-based products represent 4 percent of the market for the plastic and chemical industries, replacing petroleum based products. Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis puts the potential market share of bio-based plastic and chemical products in excess of 20 percent by 2025 with adequate federal policy support. Studies show that if that 20% threshold is realized, it would create over 100,000 American jobs. Other forms of bio-based manufacturing would create even more.