Forging Ahead in 2015

By Wayne Simmons | October 30, 2014

Ladies and gentleman, there is a lot on the line in this election, and we must be involved to make sure our industry moves forward in 2015 and beyond. 

For those of you who run advanced biofuels and renewable products companies like I do, there is a great deal you must keep your eye on. Whether it is the opportunity to apply for grant money available from the Defense Procurement Act, the Biorefinery Program or loan guarantee programs from the USDA or U.S. DOE, one must plan way in advance. Of course, we all also have to follow how the U.S. EPA is implementing and changing the regulatory requirements for our industry under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Whether we like it or not, in the short term, our industry is in partnership with the federal government and the states, in an effort to become a commercial and dependable segment of the transportation fuels supply chain. Fortunately for us, the investment community has already funded $18 billion in just the past 10 years in the U.S. to make that happen. 

For decades, energy policy has not been a partisan issue; it has been one of regional focus between consumers and producers. However, the biofuels movement, given the wide range of available feedstocks that can be used, gives all 50 states an opportunity to create jobs and sustainable fuels while also generating energy and economic security for our nation. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, an Independent or a Libertarian, you have a reason to support the call for advanced biofuels. From my position as the chairman of the Advanced Biofuels Association, I can tell you firsthand, having been in many agencies and congressional offices, that they are inclined to support our effort and cause. But unless we continue to keep them up-to-date on our progress and efforts, they will lose interest. We have had many successes in the past few years, but we have much further to go before we are a household-known and accepted industry. 

That is where this election impacts us. No matter what the outcome of the election, given the discourse in Washington surrounding the RFS, I expect that we are likely to return in 2015 to a discussion on whether we should reform the RFS.  For my money and the association’s members, having to wait more than 11 months for the renewable volume obligation (RVO) numbers to be published is simply not acceptable to our innovative industry. Let’s just take the numbers off the EPA Moderated Transaction System as a starting point, and use periodic adjustments to ensure the RVO is, in fact, the actual production, in lieu of the current system.

Just recently, we have seen our members benefit from $210 million investment under the Defense Production Act, and another $200 million under the USDA loan guarantee efforts.  These things don’t happen unless you fight for them in Washington. The Advanced Biofuels Association has been fighting for all of us for nine years—come join our efforts, make a stand and get ready for a busy and active 2015. Together we can make a difference; individually and separately from each other, the challenge is far greater. 

As you receive those phone calls requesting assistance, remember to tell those politicians that we can make a difference, but only if they give the industry certainty.  They must, on a consistent basis, make sure the rules they write and the laws they pass provide a clear message to the investment community to instill confidence to invest in our industry of the future.

Author: Wayne Simmons
CEO, Sundrop Biofuels