Obama to bring energy policy to White House

By Ron Kotrba | January 03, 2009
On Jan. 20, President-elect Barack Obama will be officially sworn in as the leader of the United States. His win over Republican candidate Sen. John McCain on Nov. 4 concluded a longer-than-usual campaign that featured several highlights for the ethanol industry. Once Obama takes office, however, many in the ethanol industry may be wondering: How soon will we see the results of his new energy policy?

Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden's campaign platform included aggressive measures to increase energy independence and security for the United States. Obama said he would like to see imports of oil from the Middle East and Venezuela eliminated in 10 years, and the implementation of a low-carbon fuels standard that would reduce carbon in U.S. transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020. He also intends to increase the 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels required to be consumed in the United States by 2020 to 60 billion gallons by 2030. By 2050, he aims to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent. This would be done in part by implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. It would require all pollution credits to be auctioned, with proceeds going to investments in a clean energy future, habitat protections and rebates. The president-elect also plans to create 5 million new jobs by investing $150 billion over the next 10 years$15 billion per yearto catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.

During the campaign, the country's energy future was a hot-button issue, and both candidates' actions and words indicated the direction the country may take. McCain expressed his disdain for ethanol subsidies and said he would repeal them. Meanwhile, members of Obama's campaign party expressed support for renewable fuels by touring Range Fuels Inc., a cellulosic ethanol pilot plant in Denver that uses wood waste as a feedstock. The company is also building a demo-scale facility in Soperton, Ga.

Obama began assembling his cabinet shortly after he was elected. At press time, former Sen. Tom Daschle, an ethanol supporter, had accepted the lead position of the Department of Health & Human Service.He named Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, replacing Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

On Obama's win, the Renewable Fuels Association stated, "On behalf of America's grain and cellulosic ethanol producers, we congratulate President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden and all those elected to Congress."