Industry hopeful Obama's climate change plan will address biofuel

By Staff | June 24, 2013

President Obama is expected to speak about his plan to fight climate change during a speech at Georgetown University on June 25. A recent posting of the White House Blog states that during his speech, Obama will “lay out his vision for the steps we need to take to prepare our country for the impacts of climate change and lead the global effort to fight it.”

In a short video posted to the White House website previewing the speech, Obama said he will describe a national plan to reduce carbon pollution. “This is a serious challenge, but it’s one uniquely suited to America’s strengths. We’ll need scientists to design new fuels and farmers to grow them. We’ll need engineers to devise new sources of energy, and businesses to make and sell them,” he said. “We’ll need workers to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, and we’ll need all of our citizens to do our part to preserve God’s creation for future generations: our forests and waterways, our croplands and snow-capped peaks. There is no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change, but when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can. So, I hope you’ll share this message with your friends, because this is a challenge that affects everyone, and we all have a stake in solving it together.”

The White House website also outlines several steps the Obama administration has already taken to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, including reducing emissions through clean energy investments and standards and the formation of a climate change adaption tax force.

Many in the biofuels industry are wondering what role biobased fuels and power will play in Obama’s vision for climate change mitigation.

Paul Winters, director of communications at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, stressed that his organization hopes Obama’s plan will recognize the contribution biotechnology can make to carbon reduction goals through the production of both biobased fuels and biochemicals. “We hope that the Obama administration recognized biotechnology as a tool for energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in manufacturing,” Winters said. "These are essential to achieve a cleaner, healthier environment. According to a recent estimate, biotechnology processes and biobased products could eliminate more than 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.”

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, said he is looking forward to hearing the specific content of Obama’s speech and is hopeful he will address transportation fuels and the role of advanced biofuels in providing sustainable options. McAdams also said he would like the president to help expedite the approval of new fuel pathways under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, pointed to the renewable fuel standard as perhaps the best example of climate change energy policy that is proven and successful. “President Obama has been a strong supporter of this program, which has helped reduce this country’s dependence on environmentally hazardous petroleum while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 50 percent when directly compared to gasoline,” he said. “The RFS is delivering demonstrable environmental benefits and fuel choice to drivers, supporting nearly 400,000 jobs domestically, and stimulating investment in new renewable fuel innovations that promise even greater benefits.”

Growth Energy also pointed to the Obama administration’s support of ethanol. "Growth Energy applauds President Obama's continued commitment to a cleaner environment and future for America,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “We look forward to continuing our efforts together with the administration to advance the use of cleaner burning, sustainable and cost-effective renewable fuels. The administration understands both the importance of improving our environment, and providing consumers with a choice of a cleaner burning, less expensive alternative at the pump, and homegrown American ethanol.”