Iowa Gov. Chet Culver issued a press release on Monday of this week saying President Barack Obama has responded to a letter from the national Governor's Biofuels Coalition. The coalition had called on the Obama administration to allow gasoline to contain up to 13% ethanol. In his letter of response to the governors, Obama didn't address that issue but instead referred to the directive Obama issued earlier in May for his administration to work together on biofuel development.
Obama's directive was announced the same day the Environmental Protection Agency released its proposed findings on the climate impact of ethanol and biodiesel that angered the biofuels industry.
The Governor's Biofuels Coalition is chaired by North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven. Culver is the vice-chairman. Culver says the president supports development of next generation biofuels - such as cellulosic ethanol - and the president understands that the current corn-based ethanol industry is needed to pave the way for that development.
Culver is vice-chair of Governor's Biofuels Coalition
In his letter of response to the coalition, Obama didn't mention directly either of the most controversial issues facing his administration. Those two issues are EPA's climate analysis and a proposal from the ethanol industry asking the EPA to raise the ethanol blending limit to 15% nationwide. Instead, Obama focused on the need to develop next generation biofuels - but he also cited the need to keep the existing ethanol and biodiesel industries viable.
Obama's letter says, "My administration is committed to moving as quickly as possible to commercialize an array of emerging cellulosic technologies so that tomorrow's biofuels will be produced from sustainable biomass feedstocks and waste materials rather than corn. But this transition will be successful only if the first generation biofuels industry remains viable in the near-term, and if we remove long-standing barriers to market expansion necessary for large volumes of advanced renewable fuels to find a place in America's transportation system."
President calls on governors for support
Culver's press release says Obama invited Culver and other members of the national Governor's Biofuels Coalition to partner with key members of the Obama administration to achieve Obama's vision for energy independence.
In his May 27, 2009 letter to the coalition, Obama praised the coalition for its leadership in biofuels policy and public education. He asked the coalition to join him in implementing his Presidential Biofuels Directive. The directive outlines Obama's vision for biofuels development and his expectations for key cabinet and administration officials to lead the administration's biofuels initiatives.
Existing corn-based ethanol industry is needed
The president noted that the coalition's February 2009 recommendations helped form key points of the directive, and led to the president's request for the coalition to work with "members of my cabinet to implement the directive."
Culver says, "The president has a clear vision of the nation's energy future and the role that biofuels will play in that future. The president understands that the next generation of biofuels will be built on the extraordinary accomplishments of Iowa's first generation fuels – our ethanol industry. To have a president who so clearly understands the future of biofuels is enormously helpful."
Obama also noted the important economic development role that biofuels can play. "It is my hope that the Presidential Biofuels Directive will lead to new jobs, new businesses and reduce dependence on foreign oil," he wrote.
States should help build bio-based economy
"The Governors' Biofuels Coalition stands ready to help President Obama implement his biofuels directive," says Culver. "This is a national challenge we simply must meet – and I believe we are up to the task. States can and should play a leading role in building a biobased transportation economy, while reducing our carbon footprint and creating jobs."
President Obama's Letter to the Coalition can be viewed at www.governorsbiofuelscoalition.org/
The Coalition's Letter and Recommendations to President Obama can be viewed at www.governorsbiofuelscoalition.org/assets/files/GBC_ObamaLetter1.pdf