Archive for June, 2013

It’s clear that renewable energy mandates are working.  The states that have passed measures mandating percentages of renewable energy are building clean energy businesses and jobs faster than the states without mandates.  It’s also clear that the states of the old south are lagging behind.  When you look at a map of the 37 states that have legislated standards or voluntary goals for renewable energy the old south looks like it’s still in rebellion.  Except for Texas, North Carolina and Virginia, the states still holding out against mandates are the same ones that gave Abe Lincoln heartburn.

Repealing the Florida ethanol mandate must have made the legislators and governor stiffen with state pride.  They fired some buckshot at the federal government.  Big Deal!  What they’ve done won’t change the federal mandate.  Much worse is they shot a hole in the foot of the nascent Florida advanced biofuel industry.  Senators of both parties joined the governor with their non-alcoholic toast.

But why would they want to repeal when the evidence shows that mandates create new businesses and jobs; when polls show people want cleaner energy choices?  Adam Putnam’s explanation why he chose not to oppose the ethanol repeal bill this year helped me understand.

“A year ago, my concern was we would be sending a message to potential investors in the state that Florida was no longer concerned about working on biofuel-related projects.”  Very good.  This was a legitimate concern.  Then this: “Since then, there have been several high-profile private sector decisions to walk away from biofuel investments in the state of Florida, not because of anything related to Florida, because the sector itself, the private capital has gravitated to fracking and natural gas development.”

Huh?…Fracking?…Natural gas development?  The purpose of the ethanol mandate was to draw entrepreneurs to Florida to make a renewable biofuel.  That is happening.  Innovators have designed more efficient methods of production and without using corn as a raw material.  Ethanol is now being produced in the state!  The company that “walked away” from a Florida commitment was none other than BP, the giant fossil fuel company now plagued by enormous financial obligations with which we are all familiar.

One of the largest energy companies in the world has decided that their relatively small investment in Florida biofuels no longer suits their prospects for profits.  And this makes the Secretary of Agriculture feel better about dropping his opposition to the ethanol repeal bill.  Meanwhile, smaller start-up companies that are making good on their commitments have lost their trust in state government.

This sounds to me like the old south where public servants took their orders from high-profile plantation owners.

Sam Kendall

Putnam Expects Little Backlash From End Of Ethanol Law

NRDC Report: State RE Standards Create Jobs


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