Ethanol and the Green Team

By Bob Dinneen | January 12, 2009
President Barack Obama's White House, Cabinet and agency selections bode well for a large-scale shift to significantly advancing the development of energy innovation and green technologies. The naming of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy; Lisa Jackson, former head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as Administrator of the U.S. EPA; former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for Secretary of the Department of Agriculture; and former Clinton EPA Administrator Carol Browner as White House
Energy/Environment Czar point to a significant change in the direction of this nation's use of fossil fuels.

Obama has been clear in his support of greener fuels and innovative technologies that reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Such forward thinking recognizes the role biofuels, America's original green fuel, can play in meeting the new administration's energy, environment and national security goals.

As America's most dynamic green industry, the ethanol industry has been hard at work reducing its carbon footprint, improving the efficiency of its biorefinery operations, and investing in innovative technologies to convert cellulose to ethanol. The Renewable Fuels Standard, signed into law just over a year ago, will require the production of 10.5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2009. Although the downturn in the economy is affecting nearly every industry today, the ethanol industry is well-positioned to meet the RFS goal as well as contribute to expanding green jobs as part of the new president's economic stimulus plan.

Some in the media have tried to label the team Obama has formed as an ethanol "dream team." Such a moniker is premature. There will be times when our industry disagrees with the direction the incoming Obama administration is heading. We will be direct and honest with them in those circumstances, as we had during the transition, and we expect to find them open to discussion and dialogue as they have always been.

The bottom line is that Obama and his Cabinet are committed to tackling the challenging issues of energy security, economic revival and environmental sustainability. By pairing people such as Chu, a leader on the cutting edge of biofuel technology, and Vilsack, a chief executive intimately familiar with the importance of a robust domestic biofuels industry, Obama is delivering on his campaign promise to accelerate the development of second- and third-generation renewable fuel technologies. The combination of scientists, legislators, administrators and state executives ensures that strong voices in support of today's American ethanol producer sing in harmony with voices seeking to accelerate the development of new technologies. In the end, this country will need them both to tackle future energy, environmental and economic challenges.

As Obama settles into the Oval Office and his new administration begins its push to stimulate the economy, generate green jobs and innovative green technologies, America's biofuels industry will be there to make its contribution.

Bob Dinneen
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association