Victory on Capitol Hill for Clean Tech Startup Ternion Bio


Pillsbury successfully lobbied Congress and the Department of Energy (DOE) in support of funding for Ternion’s innovative and cost-efficient carbon sequestration and capture technology (CCS) in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Typically government funding for CCS projects has supported the traditional, geologic methods, in which carbon emissions are captured and stored underground. But an emerging technology provides gas-emitting facilities, such as coal-burning plants, ethanol plants, petroleum refineries and manufacturing plants, with a cost-effective alternative to geologic CCS. California-based startup Ternion Bio designs and produces an innovative technology that uses algae to recycle carbon dioxide into beneficial products though its proprietary Photo BioReactor system. Funding from DOE would help Ternion advance its technology, but as a company relatively unknown in Washington, DC, competing for funding would prove difficult.

Ternion asked Pillsbury to launch a lobbying effort on its behalf to both Congress and DOE. Pillsbury’s team—led by Elizabeth Moeller and former Congressman Greg Laughlin—submitted to Congress an outline of their proposal to amend the provisions concerning carbon sequestration and capture R&D to include cost-effective and innovative technologies.

The team also used media relations tactics to draw public attention to Ternion's crusade. The effort paid off, as Moeller was quoted on the significance of including carbon recycling in the stimulus bill in several publications, including The Hill, Politico, and BusinessWeek.

On February 13, the House, followed by the Senate on February 16, passed a stimulus bill that included a modest but key change in how funds for carbon capture technology would be awarded, making clear that a portion of the $1.5 billion set aside for CCS and energy efficiency improvements would be allocated to carbon recycling projects from companies like Ternion through a competitive process at DOE.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Eydie Pengelly, APR, for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman | Attorney Advertising

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