Obama Commitment on Second Gen Biofuels Good, Let's Hold Him To It
Just in case anyone thinks that I might be just an Obama fanboy and won't call him out on energy policy when he deserves it, this one’s for you. Bloomberg.com is reporting comments which they are spinning as indicating as Obama being willing to continue similar levels of support for ethanol as the Bush administration.
Here’s the quote from the Obama campaign’s senior energy advisor Heather Zichal which got Bloomberg.com to say that Obama will follow failed Bush policy,
Obama recognizes how important the renewable and biofuels industry is to creating jobs and meeting our goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil. He's fully committed to it and sees tremendous value in the renewable fuels standard and continuing down this path.
Sustainability Criteria Must Be Included in any RFS
The thing here to me isn’t that having an aggressive renewable fuel standard per se would be a continuance of Bush policy, but not ensuring that the wording of such a standard included language that required all biofuels to be produced in a sustainable manner—working conditions, true carbon neutrality, no conversion of croplands, etc—would be a substantial weakness in any RFS.
A number of independent organizations have proposed such standards and an Obama administration would be wise to include their suggestion in any legislation mandating the use of biofuels. Doing so will probably in itself knock corn ethanol out of the running.
Cellulosic Ethanol, Non-Food Crop Biofuels Research Must be Funded
Once that is done, providing sufficient federal research funding to support rapid development of second generation biofuels is key.
Thankfully, Barack Obama has indicated that he wants to advance cellulosic ethanol research, but we mustn't rest on that assurance alone and continue to monitor his commitment here so that he doesn’t get swayed by the corn lobby into, as the original article suggests (perhaps prematurely), continue the failed policies of the Bush administration in promoting biofuels.
The Bush administration policy on biofuels would have seen 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels mixed into the national fuel supply by 2022. Obama’s proposed policy would increase that to 60 billion gallons by 2030.
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