Making Our Case

By Tim Portz | November 20, 2012

At the risk of diminishing President Obama’s successful bid for a second term, it can nevertheless be argued that the personal decisions we all made in the polling booths were merely a prologue to the looming decisions our elected officials face as we move into 2013. Our government is racing headlong toward the euphemistic fiscal cliff that received surprisingly little attention in the presidential debates, but re-emerged as the most pressing national issue almost before the race’s outcome was certain. The newly-elected and re-elected senators, representatives, and president may soon find themselves wishing for the stress and demands of a campaign trail as they face not only the fiscal cliff, but also an unresolved Farm Bill and an American public growing tired of watching their government kick the can down the road.

This month’s issue of Biomass Magazine seeks to lay out what is at stake for the industry as our government returns to the hard work of running a country attempting to pull itself out of recession. Luke Geiver’s feature “Navigating the Political Scene” offers a snapshot of legislation that impacts various sectors of the biomass industry, paired with industry insider commentary describing the importance of particular policy segments. In his monthly column for Biomass Magazine, Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, echoes this theme, but takes the conversation a step further by questioning whether climate change policy, or at least a return to a national conversation about our energy future within the context of climate, is likely.

As policymakers in Washington, D.C., take on these and other issues that will arise, the bioenergy sector continues to drive forward. Despite calls for a waiver of the renewable fuels standard, the industry’s first commercial-scale volumes of advanced biofuels are scheduled to come online in the coming year, utilizing different feedstocks while leveraging varied conversion pathways. In this issue we also report that US pellet capacity continues to rise as producers here serve customers in Western Europe, where, for now, the government has for now, made a stronger commitment than the U.S. to find and utilize energy sources with lower carbon profiles.

Our industry’s best argument for future policy support will always be the successful outcomes that we argued would arise from legislation we worked for in the past. In this regard, the achievements we’re poised to make in 2013 may be the best case we’ve made in years.