What Is in a Name? For Renewable Biofuels, Quite a Bit

In Biofuels, Environmental, Ethanol by Cathryn

It may be trite to define a commonly used term as a lead in to a larger story, but it seems a Texas lawmaker has completely forgotten what the word “renewable” means.

U.S. Representative Pete Oleson (R-TX) wants to rewrite what qualifies as a biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard to include ethanol made from natural gas. Maybe Rep. Oleson was confused by the word natural or maybe his support for the state’s oil industry blinds him, but natural gas, a coproduct formed with petroleum, does not qualify because, intrinsically, it is not renewable.

Congress created the RFS to reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. While they certainly did so to cut pollution, they also wanted to shift our nation’s energy future away from an addiction to a finite resource. As an oil coproduct, natural gas also qualifies as a fossil fuel. The supply of natural gas however, while more abundant than the oil supply, still is finite.

The oil industry’s stranglehold on America’s energy supply should not be tightened by redefining the word renewable. It shouldn’t be tightened at all.

Common sense prevailed when lawmakers crafted the RFS. They had the foresight and wherewithal to create a way to break free from fossil fuels. They created a way to build the greener, more sustainable energy future that renewable biofuels can provide. Today’s lawmakers should exercise the same integrity and deny big oil a backdoor win.

Redefining renewable biofuels will not magically make oil wells that never run dry. A renewable future needs a renewable feedstock. It needs corn.