On the Edge of my Driver’s Seat

Do the Renewable Fuel Standard bill and other green legislation leave you stranded on the edge of your driver’s seat?

By CARRIE ELLIS, Editor, Chem.Info

So what’s the holdup, you ask? And rightfully so. Lawmakers have been hailing the environmental revolution as the way out of this deep pit called an economic recovery, but have yet to sign anything that would toss a ladder into the deep hole to offer a few folks a glimpse of light. (Listen closely for the whispers of health care.) They have also been stalling the Renewable Fuel Standard and other green legislation, while holding them up as ideals—a bastion between the U.S. and some other dark economic force like China or India.

Well, experts say that the delay could be due to the fact that it’s an election year. Or simply a stalemated Congress. Or bringing up the rear of a long line of other bills that need to be prioritized first. For experts, their expertise seems scatter-shot. However, this administration has promised that going green would spur economic recovery. Jobs creation. Bi-partisanship. Blah, blah, blah. Is it me, or can you only read the same article so many times?

On the other hand, some processing facilities are crossing their fingers that environmental bills (the cap-and-trade program, anybody?) fall simultaneously through the very cracks of the government’s fingers. This is understandable considering the capital implications of such laws, with new equipment, more traceability procedures and so on. This stalling on the part of lawmakers has cost industry jobs, though, while we’re left in the lurch of a bad economy with double-digit unemployment rates.

According to a Biofuels Digest article, “Brussels and Washington remain mired in red tape, regulations and confounded by the perplexing uncertainties of defining ‘sustainability’ from several perspectives. It is important to remember why some nations started biofuels regulations in the first place: national security. More importantly, international security.

“The three largest emerging markets of the BRIC countries — China, India and Brazil — continue to move forward on biofuels policies, mandates and programs, while Washington and Brussels sidestep, punt and delay mandates for unclear sustainability rationale.”

The end result is that the Renewable Fuel Standard (and other bills just like it) has left many biofuels advocates sitting on the edges of their drivers’ seats. Without any promise of government funding, investment has slowed and projects have languished. Furthermore, since this trend has remain unchanged for quite some time, the barometer for biofuels production success has become whether a company must rely on a government mandate or tax credit, or whether that company can stand on its own infrastructure and technology. Many startups will remain stalled, withering and dead if this collective heel-dragging doesn’t find a swift conclusion.

Another enormous point of contention for biodiesel producers has been the lapse of the biodiesel tax credit last year. According to the National Biodiesel Board, “Biodiesel production has ground to a halt and more than 29,000 jobs have already been lost across the industry since the tax credit lapsed on January 1, 2010.” As of last month, no timeline has been discussed either.

I say that it’s time to get off to a start on our greener foot even if just to maximize our global profit potential. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we’re in a race in which the world is clamoring to pinpoint that next big thing that’s going to naturally stimulate the economy, as opposed to hearing more of government handouts. No one wants to hear more about that.

Normally, I’d say no, no, take your time on passing this potentially far-reaching energy legislation. It’s not something I’d like to think that lawmakers rush through, especially considering the amount of politicians who admit to just not having the time to read bills before voting begins. However, some things are worth risking, and if anything, let’s sink something into an issue that we can all benefit from in the future.

We know that our contemporary political polls indicate that we’re not sure what change really means, but we are in dire need, no matter if it’s in the form of a mandate, a tax credit or other green legislation.

Are you on the edge of your driver’s seat, too? Or you one of the people crossing your fingers in hopes that green legislation continues to languish? Sound off by e-mailing me at carrie.ellis@advantagemedia.com.