Slice through political chatter this election season

It is imperative for the biofuels industry to pay attention to what presidential candidates are saying about the nation’s energy policy and the RFS, writes Bob Dinneen. This column appears in the November issue of EPM.
By Bob Dineen | October 19, 2015

Even a casual observer of the nightly news is more than likely aware that the presidential election season is under way. Right now, the political chatter is just an obnoxious buzz. As we get closer to 2016, the buzz will grow and get much louder.  And, by this time next year, it will have transformed itself into a full-blown cacophony of sound bites and advertisements.

As an unabashed political junkie, I get a particular thrill when the political chatter reaches its fever pitch and the intense national policy debates take center stage. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle it is often difficult to discern substance from superficiality. But it is imperative for those of us in the biofuels industry to pay close attention to what the presidential candidates are saying about how they would deal with the nation’s energy policy, in general, and the renewable fuel standard (RFS), in particular. In this effort, we are aided by the phenomenal job America’s Renewable Future has done in educating the candidates about agriculture and biofuels so that we have a pretty clear picture of where each of the presidential candidates stand on the RFS.

So far, of the 18 candidates running for president from both parties, only one has indicated unadulterated opposition to the RFS. Not surprisingly, it’s Big Oil’s senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.  Perhaps even he will come along, however, as he recognizes how out of step he is with voters who realize the RFS is lowering gas prices, reducing carbon emissions and making us more energy secure.  But it is certainly notable that every other candidate for president has expressed some level of support for our nation’s most successful energy policy. 

But listen closely; there are many degrees of support among the candidates.  Some simply recognize the importance of the government keeping its promises and would end the RFS in 2022, whether there is a level playing field and consumer access for ethanol or not.  Others support the RFS exclusively as a means to replace corn ethanol with what they believe will be better biofuels from cellulose, a false choice that diminishes the potential of both.  America deserves a president who understands that the RFS has been a tremendous success and will fully and faithfully implement the program because of its tremendous economic, energy and environmental promise.

Look for those candidates, and there are several, who support the RFS without qualification, who understand that this important program is driving innovation in both corn and cellulose technologies, that it is providing consumers with real relief at the gas pump, that it is re-energizing America’s Heartland, and that it is providing no small measure of defense against the dual national security threats of oil dependence and global warming. 

I certainly intend to keep my ears open to hear what the candidates are saying, and I will keep my eyes open to read what they are writing. It is imperative that we pay attention to the political chatter as we steadily move into 2016, but it is equally important that we are able to slice through that chatter and listen closely to what the candidates are saying with respect to how they plan on approaching our nation’s energy policy. Our future depends on it.


Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association
202-289-3835