American ingenuity will help meet climate goals

In January’s State of the Union address, President Obama shared his plan for tackling climate change, including a drive to use the “fuels of the future.” 

In our view, the fuels of the future are biofuels and they are already here.  There’s only one problem: The very institution that set the wheels in motion to create the biofuels industry is now stepping on the brakes.  Here’s what happened – and why it matters to you.

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In 2007, a bipartisan Congress and Republican President passed and signed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Their vision was to develop a domestic fuel source that would reduce our reliance on foreign oil, create jobs in America and reduce fossil fuels’ harm on our health and environment. The RFS called for increasing amounts of renewable fuel to be blended into the country’s fuel supply up to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. President Bush said, “Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years.”  With that challenge, America went to work.

Fast forward five years: In 2012, America met the RFS targets, producing 15 billion gallons per year of renewable fuel from 209 plants. More than 90,000 men and women made that happen.

Private companies invested more than $1 billion dollars to build plants that could make fuel from agricultural and forestry waste, and even household trash. Despite the worst economic recession in decades, companies including POET, Abengoa, Kior, INEOS and others began construction of these advanced biofuel plants, putting thousands more Americans to work in construction, engineering, raw materials and management. 

In just five years, America built an entire new industry from the ground up, positioning the U.S. as a leading innovator in new technology.

Now we arrive at 2014, when the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a reversal to the RFS that ultimately says, “We don’t want it.”  For the first time, it has proposed to reduce the amount of renewable fuel blended into our country’s fuel supply despite the higher RFS target in the law and the industry’s capability to deliver the volumes as intended.

As a consumer, this impacts you – because you have a choice. Do you want the benefits biofuels bring to America?

  • The nearly 400,000 jobs created by the renewable fuel industry?
  • Reduction of Middle East oil imports by 25 percent?
  • The $43 billion added to the U.S. GDP?
  • Reduction of carbon emissions of up to 90 percent versus gasoline?
  • Reduced prices at the pump by more than $1 per gallon on average?

Each of us has a say in that industry keeping its momentum. If you believe in a cleaner energy future and a safer America:

  • Consider choosing a flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) as your next car
  • Tell your local gas station owner you want them to offer E15 at the pump (a blend of 15% ethanol; most gas in the U.S. is now 10 percent ethanol)
  • Put E15 into your car (model 2001 year and newer)
  • Tell the EPA or your elected official you support the development of alternative fuels
  • Share with your friends and family via social media why you care about renewable fuels and what the alternative is if we abandon our efforts now

The renewable fuel industry continues to deliver a new fuel option that’s in the strategic best interest of our country. Together we can create more jobs, a cleaner environment and better lives.

Monroe is regional president Americas for Novozymes, a global industrial biotechnology company with North American headquarters based in Franklinton, NC. The company is a leading technology provider to more than 30 industries including bioenergy and bioagriculture.

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