Boulevard of Broken Biofuels Dreams

Several legislative architects of U.S. biofuels policy are facing defeat in what analysts are projecting may be one of the most lopsided midterm elections in recent memory.

By JIM LANE, Editor & Publisher, Biofuels Digest

In Washington, several of the legislative architects of U.S. biofuels policy, particularly advanced biofuels, are facing defeat in what analysts are projecting may be one of the most lopsided midterm elections in recent memory.

Already the respected Rothenberg and Cook political reports are projecting losses by the Democratic Party in the House of more than 60 seats, even more than the celebrated debacle in 1994 after the first two years of the Clinton presidency.

Among vulnerable seats held by proponents of increased support for bioenergy, are Democratic House members Debbie Halvorsen of Illinois, Harry Teague of New Mexico, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin of South Dakota, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota as well as Republicans Dave Reichert of Washington and Mary Bono Mack of California. Halvorsen, Teague, Pomeroy and Herseth-Sandlin are considered the most at risk by Cook and Rothenberg. Teague, Reichart and Mack were among co-sponsors of the recent legislation that passed the House to create parity for algal biofuels.

Numerous pioneering legislators may be swept up in the anti-incumbent fervor of the US midterm elections, denting hopes for a transition to advanced forms of clean energy. Pictured: video clip from Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.

The leaders, who embraced the energy security and local economic development opportunities of biofuels but have struggled to differentiate themselves from overall discontent with Obama administration policy, may well be reminded of Green Day’s Grammy-winning “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”:

“I walk a lonely road..Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me, ’til then I’ll walk alone.”

In the Senate, Agriculture Committee chair Blanche Lincoln appears headed for defeat, according to a consensus of analysts, though a trio of ethanol proponents, Republicans John Thune of South Dakota, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Jerry Moran of Kansas, appear poised to sail into office. Senate algal R&D supporter Patty Murray is in the fight of her political life in washington state, where she seeks a fourth term, while Iowa Governor Chet Culver is trailing in the latest polls. Meanwhile, former DOE official and Florida PUC Commission chair Joe Garcia may well be among the few bright lights for Democrats on Tuesday night, as he has pulled into a statistical tie with David Rivera for an open seat formerly held by republican Mario Diaz-Balart.

Meanwhile in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff was elected president of Brazil in a sign that the country is unlikely to meander from the successful mix of policies that marked the eight-year reign of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Rousseff, who served as chief of staff and as energy minister under Lula, was endorsed by the popular president, who leaves with an 80 percent approval rating and has indicated that he would focus his attention on projects such as African-Brazilian trade development.  In 2008, it was Rousseff  who unveiled the national agricultural zoning plan, which specifies where crops can be grown for fuel and food, while declaring support for economic development through support of expanded ethanol production.

In Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, the former president of Argentina and widely expected to contest the next election, following his wife Christina Kirchner, died suddenly of a massive heart attack in the southern city of Calafate. Kichner, who was 60, earned the enmity of Argentina’s soy farmers for a series of measures that curtailed export opportunities in the industry, but across the country the Peronist party doyennes has earned popularity for a mix of anti-Washington, debt-canceling, and economy-stimulating policies. Kirchner’s death is expected to throw the upcoming presidential process into chaos.

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