Not All Chemicals Are Created Equal™

There must be something in the water around here? On Saturday the Boston Bruins served up an away game 5 to 0 shutout. That same evening the Red Sox gave Detroit a lesson in Adroit, winning the 6th and deciding game of the American League Championship Series. Obviously they feared the beard. All this while Boston hosted the world’s biggest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles, under perfect autumn skies. Seriously, does it ever get any better than this?

Congratulations Sox, and best wishes for the opening game of the World Series this Wednesday at friendly Fenway against the Cards. Like Boston itself, you’re a spectacular, gritty, strong and persistent symbol of what it means to carry on, never quit, and believe in yourself!

On behalf of the team at Myriant, I want to extend our appreciation to the Department of Energy (DOE) for its Biomass 2013 event last week in Washington, D.C., and for their invitation to us to tell the Myriant story to-date. It was an excellent, two-day event from start to finish. And, for us, the opportunity to spotlight our growth and development in front of hundreds of diverse stakeholders in the bioenergy supply chain was a tremendous moment capping our recent milestones in the commercialization of bio-based chemicals. The session for which we were chosen to present, entitled Celebrating Successes – The Foundation of An Advanced Bioindustry, was the perfect showcase to highlight the DOE’s remarkable contributions to our organization and to detail the many positive outcomes that have occurred as a result of the Department’s advocacy of our vision.

The session also gave us the opportunity, in front of very influential people at the DOE and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) when it comes to federal policymaking, to note bio-industry funding options currently under consideration or long-discussed as beneficial next-steps in securing the future stability and growth of biomass initiatives. Specifically, our presentation noted the following:

…there’s more we can do and should do and it includes an essential expansion of reliable funding sources for major bio-refinery projects. Some food for thought:

Passage of the Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Act would go a long way in this direction. The ability to apply financing tools like MLPs and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) would speed plant funding and enable the industry to “cast a wider investor net” by allowing public investors to participate in financing bio-refineries.

On the policy side, passage of a Farm Bill, more specifically, the Senate version of the evolving Farm Bill, which recognizes the important ongoing economic and product benefits associated with contemporary bio-refinery projects. Requisite bi-partisan support is needed for a fully funded Farm Bill; one that provides mandatory funding for key energy titles and that also recognizes the importance of renewable chemicals on equal footing with bio-based fuels.

Tax reform and inclusion of monetizable production tax credits will also go a long way to spark investor enthusiasm, durability and commitment.

Overall, the audience heard a story of public-private partnership and also a story of our advances commercializing our technology platform. Our story was one of many now emerging, that renders skeptics somewhat at a loss when it comes to the contemporary reality of bio-based innovations and commercial operations. A famous quote used in my talk captured this, and resonated with an audience filled with hard-working and visionary people doing what so many have so long said could never be done.  The quote comes from British politician Tony Benn. He said, “It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”

We always knew it could be done and now it is becoming more and more undeniable among all the rest.

If there’s been a reason why green values have been slow on the uptake at some traditional companies, the reason may be in discovery at The Dow Chemical Company and others. Right now, for example, in this article by Mark Weick and Sissel Waage entitled, When will your company begin accounting for nature? courtesy of the GreenBiz blog, the authors argue for the adaptation of traditional accounting methods to more appropriately measure environmental metrics. Mr. Weick, by the way, is director of sustainability programs and enterprise risk management at The Dow Chemical Co. Ms. Waage is the director of biodiversity and ecosystem services at BSR which is an organization that develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration.

For many of us, if not all, sustainability has always had its intuitive benefits. But like the value of love, loyalty, trust… it hasn’t always been so easy to place a numeric value on it. This has been especially true for traditional number crunchers calculating profit and loss using spreadsheets that don’t necessarily have a row or column or formula for …integrating natural capital and ecosystem services into corporate accounting…

It’s an interesting read and I think a sign of the times and of things to come. As more corporate leaders and stakeholders are given the real numbers behind the true monetary value of environmental metrics, the green movement will continue to gain momentum and support.

It took seven games to prevail over the Maple Leafs; five to embarrass the Rangers; and, most recently, just four games to…oh gosh… what is the right modifier here? Take your pick: demolish, disassemble, humble, school, slap, trash…the Penguins! We even had a player who skated through a broken leg to the end of a Penguins power play opportunity! Now THAT is determination (sort of like Myriant; determined!) The Penguins not only didn’t win even one of four games in the best of seven series, I’m trying to remember if they even scored four goals in total? They lost at home. They lost away. They lost when they played dainty and when they lowered their pinkies. What can I say? We’re proud of our Boys from Boston. Next up; Chicago. Two of the original six; it should be an epic series.

Go Bruins!!!

Well, well, well… look what’s happening in Massachusetts, our home state. In a Boston Globe piece by staffer Erin Ailworth we learn that according to an index from industry research firm Clean Edge Inc., Massachusetts is #2 in the nation for clean energy technology, just a notch away from California which, we all know, has long had at least the reputational edge in this category. But this reality check by Clean Edge, which relied on …several factors, including state policies and incentives promoting clean technologies, per capita investment in the industry, the use of alternative-fuel vehicles, and the deployment of alternative energy generating sources… shows we’re making a strong bid for leadership in this sector. In fact, according to the report, Massachusetts spends more per capita on clean energy technology than California.

The article, entitled Mass ranks near the top in clean energy technology, notes we overtook Oregon for the first time and outdistanced New York and Colorado, too. Actually, if we’re in the No.2 spot, there must be 48 states not quite yet doing what’s getting done here. Congratulations to all in the state that are advancing the clean energy mission and making Massachusetts a leading example of how innovation happens.