Well folks, the day has come. Obama is out, Trump is in. I’m watching the stream live while I write this, just shortly before the swearing-in ceremony.
Leading up to this day, there has been much speculation, commentary, questions, predictions, etc., as to the impact of the new administration on the biomass industry.
The consensus? We’ll be fine. And soon enough, we'll know.
Yesterday, Trump nominated former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA as the secretary of agriculture. Overall, it seems most industry groups are satisfied with the pick, albeit a few concerns. As my colleague Erin Voegele writes in yesterday's report, according to the Biomass Power Association, Georgia is currently home to 162 MW of biomass power capacity, with more due to come online this year. Under Perdue’s leadership, a 17-MW biomass facility opened in North Georgia, and construction began on a 50-MW facility in LaGrange and a 55-MW facility in Barnesville. Perdue also supported the development of other wood energy projects including wood pellet plants and biofuels production.
Ethanol groups have acknowledged that he’s qualified to do the job, and he has supported setting renewable energy targets in the past, but the big question is whether he will be an advocate of the renewable fuel standard. And that, in general, there isn’t any representation of Midwestern states among Trump’s cabinet picks.
And then there’s Rick Perry to lead the U.S. DOE, a department he once called for the elimination of (five years ago). He's an interesting choice, and certainly not a favorite. While being grilled by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he said, "My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking…in fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination."
Speaking of that hearing, if you want a good laugh, watch this exchange between Perry and Al Franken.
Republican strategy during the hearing was to point out that’s it’s Perry’s management skills that will come into play—a 14-year stint as governor of Texas—rather than his lack of scientific background. We’re talking nearly 15,000 people who work at the DOE. A renewable energy advocate/supporter, though?
Today, a new era begins. We live in a great country. As an industry, we’ll keep fighting the good fight.