Politics and Biomass

By Rona Johnson
When you read this column, I pray the election will be over, the nation's financial footing is restored, and voters will realize that we need a new breed of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who are more concerned about the well-being of this country and less about reelection.

After watching the events that unfolded in September and October-banks and insurance companies folding, and the stock market taking a dive-I don't have much faith that anyone running our country today is intelligent enough to deal with the financial turmoil. I have even less faith in their ability to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and fossil fuels in general.

They claim they are in touch with Americans and understand the pain we are feeling as gas and food prices rise, home values fall, and retirement plans fall by the wayside. OK, we get it. At the same time, the stock market needs a shot in the arm. Instead, presidential candidates and lawmakers wring their hands in despair and throw good money after bad.

Confidence is key, and in the case of energy independence, I believe our leaders need to take a look at the giant steps that are already being taken to wean us off fossil fuels. I don't think they realize just how much gasoline has been displaced by ethanol, and could be further displaced as production increases and cellulosic feedstocks are utilized. Furthermore, I don't think they have a clue what biomass is or how it's being used to make many products that were once made with petroleum.

It might be a good idea for them to take a look at this month's magazine, which is focused on biobased chemicals, fiber and products. I'm sure we could have produced a magazine the size of a catalog if we had included every biobased product on the market today, not to mention all the research and development efforts that are taking place in the United States.

That being said, I think we would have gotten much more bang for our $700 billion if it had been spent on biomass-based fuels, power and chemicals.

Rona Johnson
Features Editor