Industry: Obama, ethanol won the election

By Kris Bevill | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 5, 2008 at 3:57 p.m. CST

The 2008 U.S. presidential election was a monumentous occasion for people and organizations across the country, but perhaps no industry had as much at stake as the renewable fuels industry. During his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama vowed to continue to support the development of a strong renewable fuels industry as a way to secure U.S. energy independence.

Among Obama's campaign promises:
  • A mandate requiring at least 10 percent of the nation's energy to be derived from renewable resources within four years.

  • Further support for renewable fuel subsidies.

  • Continued federal tax incentives and government contracts for the development of second-generation biofuels.

  • A requirement for automakers to begin producing drastically more fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • Implementation of a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions program.

  • The creation of five million "green collar" jobs through federal investments of up to $150 billion over the next decade.

  • The establishment of a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard in order to expand the use of non-petroleum fuels.

It remains to be seen how he hold to his campaign promises, but ethanol industry members are optimistic that an Obama administration is a bright light for renewable fuels.

EPM spoke to members of the industry to gain their perspectives:

Larry Mitchell, director of government affairs, American Corn Growers Assocation: "It's quite obvious from their voting records and their platforms that Obama will do a much better job to advance ethanol and especially advanced ethanol, biodiesel, geothermal, wind…I would say that energy as a whole probably has a much brighter future under a Barack Obama presidency."

Brian Jennings, executive vice president, American Coalition for Ethanol: "It's clear that renewable energy and particularly biofuels were an important part of Obama's campaign for president and I think it's clear that renewable energy and biofuels will be at the center of the energy strategy and policy that he pursues as president. I think it's safe to say that when he assembles his advisors and they begin to confront energy policy, independence and security that they will have a broad recognition that we need to continue to build upon the advances made by corn ethanol and accelerate the pace at which we commercialize cellulosic biofuel. Simply put, I think ethanol won in this election and I feel very good about where we're heading."

Clayton McMartin, president, Clean Fuels Clearinghouse: "Obama will bring much needed stability to the current renewable fuel standard program. This should give those in the business a more solid base to build from as they develop and implement strategic plans for future renewable fuel operations."

Keith Bolin, president, American Corn Growers Association, as well as a farmer and livestock producer: "I think it's good news for rural America, not just for ethanol but for the broader base of agriculture. My hope is that there's going to be a little more fairness and equity in federal policy. Obviously, ethanol was a winner last night, there's no doubt about that - not just with Obama but with more pro-renewable energy people getting elected across the country. I [am] very pleased for rural American and for the farmers we represent."