Setting the Global Direction

By Mike Bryan | September 23, 2010
The world is watching America's renewable energy policy. Living now in Australia and being involved in the biofuels industry here and having had the opportunity to travel to many countries over the last 25 years, one thing is clear to me. Countries may set their own renewable energy policy, but what America does helps to set the tone for renewable energy on a global scale.

The current debate over raising the allowable content level of ethanol to 15 percent is being watched everywhere. "If cars in America can run on 15 percent ethanol why can't our cars?" That same question has been asked by Americans about the Brazilian ethanol/auto industry for years. "If Brazilian cars can run on 20 percent ethanol without modification, why can't American cars?"

In truth, there is no reason. Neither the U.S. EPA, nor the auto or oil industries have been able to come up with one truly credible reason why ethanol cannot be blended at 15 percent with gasoline. We all know it's the politics of a strong oil lobby, pure and simple. The world is watching America.

I recently traveled to Thailand on a business development trade mission. We met with Prime Minister Vejjajiva for over an hour discussing trade, renewable energy and business development. One thing became clearwhile Thailand sets its direction on renewable energy policy, there is an underlying influence that comes from watching what America is doing. The same is true for Australia and many other countries around the world.

What we do in the United States has an indirect, sometimes even direct influence on public policy globally. When we speak with a loud and clear voice to Congress, it inspires others to do the same. When President Obama makes it known that he supports biofuels, it has an impact. When farmers across America unite and bring a strong message to Washington on renewable energy, and farm policy, it creates an attitude of "if they can do itwe can do it" in other parts of the world.

America has taken a lot of hits in the past few years, with wars, questionable international policies and the global economic crisis. One of the things we are still admired for however, is our dedication to a strong renewable energy industry. We are looked at as a world leader in adopting energy policies that help our environment and programs that support our farmers and rural communities.

We need to set a biofuels standard that is second to none. Believe it or notthe world is watching.

That's the way I see it.