Clean fuels: Demand it, we’ll create it
Biofuel: it's not just corn anymore. Read about what it takes to create jobs in Oregon delivering climate-friendly biofuel made from algae and other sources.
When you hear the word “biofuel,” does your mind immediately jump to endless fields of corn? Indeed, corn-based ethanol is a biofuel—a “conventional” or “first generation” biofuel. But today, producers are moving beyond the limits of using food crops for fuel.
Waste grease, grass and bushes, agricultural residue—even algae—are the feed stocks of today’s “advanced” biofuel.
And here’s the really cool part: Advanced biofuels are half as carbon intensive as petroleum—some are 75% cleaner. That means less global warming pollution.
A new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs describes how the advanced biofuels industry is growing steadily. The market is responding to incentives and regulations. The technology is advancing. The military and the aviation industry are using biofuels. Biorefineries are being built to meet future demand. The report estimates that, by 2015, thousands of people will be put to work making as much as 2.6 billion gallons of fuel1.
That would really help ease our dependence on oil. Oregon’s economy would have a buffer against spikes in global oil prices.
It takes money to build the infrastructure so we can grow, refine and deliver these new fuels. Private capital investors need to be certain that they’ll get a return on their dollar one day. They need to know that someone will buy the fuel.
They can count on California to buy hundreds of millions of gallons. The state has a “low carbon fuel standard” that requires transportation fuel to be 10% less carbon intensive in ten years. California will need advanced biofuel in the mix to meet that requirement.
Oregon has a similar Clean Fuels Program slated for adoption this December. But the program faces an uncertain future.
When legislature first authorized the program to gradually require cleaner fuels, a “sunset” was written into the law. Unless we lift that sunset, investors can’t count on Oregon’s need for cleaner fuels past the year 2015. That’s a market risk they might not be willing to take.
At OEC, we’re doing our part to ensure that advanced biofuels and other low-carbon fuels have a fighting chance against petroleum. We will work to remove the sunset on the Clean Fuels Program during the 2013 legislative session. Stay tuned. Sign up for our action alert email list if you’d like to make your voice heard when the time comes.
1. Biorefineries coming on line by 2015 will create about 1,518 permanent, 6,965 construction, and 9,924 indirect jobs. This jobs estimate just scratches the surface because it doesn’t account for other jobs created within the biofuel value chain, research & development, and related management and marketing.