Silicon Valley quickly solidified San Francisco as the land of innovation. For decades, entrepreneurs and companies have flocked to the city and its surrounding areas with ideas that can elevate their industry to the next level. Whether it’s the development of new products, manufacturing capabilities, or processing techniques, innovation drives economic growth.  And if successful, that new idea can create a domino effect, improving not only the intended industry but also local communities and the country as a whole.

This is the case for a recent innovation developed by the fuel industry as companies continue to expand initiatives to further comply with California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The biofuel industry’s latest effort seeks to take municipal solid waste and turn it into a new renewable and eco-friendly biofuel. This is a two-part method that begins by building processing facilities next to landfills. These facilities break down everyday trash, paper, and even take out containers to produce an advanced biofuel feedstock, otherwise known as a bio-intermediate. Next, the bio-intermediate product is shipped on trucks to a second facility for co-processing alongside petroleum to create a new advanced cellulosic biofuel.

One advanced biofuel company is already in the process of opening one of these bio-intermediate producing facilities in Reno, Nevada. The resulting product would then be shipped to a partnering refinery in California. By leveraging the existing refining infrastructure in our state, biofuel companies can significantly increase the volume of advanced renewable fuels in the marketplace and reduce the fuel industry’s carbon footprint. Additionally, the creation of bio-intermediate processing facilities will reduce waste piling up in landfills across the country to further improve our environment. Moreover, the building of these facilities, as well as the processing and shipment of bio-intermediates creates hundreds of construction jobs as well as permanent job opportunities, accelerating economic growth in those communities.

But before bio-intermediates can prove its value in the marketplace and in cities throughout the U.S., it must clear one final hurdle. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation currently states that the use of bio-intermediates in the production of qualified renewable fuels in the National Renewable Fuel Program (RFS) is not allowed, though other advanced biofuels have long been approved. That is not to say that the agency disapproves of the new cellulosic fuel. In fact, the agency included a pathway for the use of bio-intermediates in their proposed 2016 “Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support” (REGS) Rule but the rule still has not been finalized.

The absence of that final rule continues to plague the market with uncertainty. Without a clear green light from the EPA, companies may not be able to justify the continued investment needed to develop these new facilities and this industry advancement may be halted before the benefits are fully realized. The EPA should swiftly revisit its 2016 REGS Rule and finalize language to approve the use of bio-intermediates to provide this eco-friendly fuel a chance in the market.

Our nation is currently at a precipice thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and opportunities that inspire innovation, improve the environment, boost our economy and create jobs are needed now more than ever. Let’s make these new opportunities a reality and continue the legacy of innovation for our great nation.