Stimulus dollars should go to good biofuels, not more for bad

This post on the Wall St. Journal's Washington Wire blog added some specificity to the rumors I've been hearing that the biofuels industry is pushing for some financial support as part of the economic recovery package likely to move early next year. This prompted us to send this letter around the Hill today urging legislators not to throw more good money after bad biofuels, but rather start redirecting all of our myriad biofuels subsidies towards good biofuels.

In fact, I would say (and the letter urges) that we really just focus our precious financial resources on getting the first billion gallons of advanced biofuels up and running and running in the best possible environmental way. Only by proving to ourselves that we can actually produce at least 1 billion gallons of biofuels in a way that delivers on the environmental promises of this industry can we start to build--or rebuild--any consensus around moving forward.

As the letter says:

The conventional biofuels industry is fully mature and has long enjoyed generous federal mandates, tax policies, and subsidies. In 2008 alone the biofuels industry received $10 billion in tax payer money.


Getting the first billion gallons of “advanced” biofuels, including cellulosic biofuels, from more environmentally benign sources and into the marketplace will demonstrate that they are technically and economically feasible, and will begin to move the industry in a more environmentally positive direction.

And finally,

Congress can begin by funding through the stimulus package EISA section 207’s biofuel grant program and the Biomass Research and Development Act. Finally, the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program should be fully funded as soon as possible and directed to develop biomass feedstocks that demonstrably decrease greenhouse gas emissions, avoid deforestation and the conversion of natural habitat, and improve our soil and water resources relative to current uses for these lands.

As our nation finally begins in earnest to move beyond dirty fuels that exacerbate the climate crisis, we urge you to invest critical funding in the economic recovery legislation in moving towards more environmentally protective bioenergy rather than harmful, conventional biofuels.