Biofuels Are a Priority Says USDA's Tom Vilsack

Biofuels & Climate Change

Today, USDA’s new Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack discussed his priorities in a conference call with reporters across the country.
Two of those priorities? You guessed, biofuels and climate change.
The priorities as listed in a statement relased today by the USDA are:

1. Advancing research and development and pursuing opportunities to support the development of biofuels, wind power, and other renewable energy sources, saying that USDA needs to make sure that the biofuels industry has the necessary support to survive recent market challenges while promoting policies that will accelerate the development of next-generation biofuels that have the potential to significantly improve our energy independence.

2. Making progress on major environmental challenges, including climate change. Vilsack said it’s important that farmers and ranchers play a role with USDA in efforts to promote incentives for management practices that provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, and help farmers participate in markets that reward them for sequestering carbon and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

What can I say? Except for, this is well, fantastic.

The biofuels industry, is still what many would consider to be a fledgling industry. On this blog in particular, we have spent a lot of time talking about the technology, why it’s a good thing and so on. But what we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about is what kind of dollars it would take to make it happen.

Government support is important for generating dollars. An excellent example of this is the Renewable Fuels Standard. My colleague Matt Carr, wrote a blog post for the, The Hill’s Congress Blog, Keeping the Standard. In his post Matt says,

That we continue to support the development of biofuels is critical. Cellulosic ethanol is on the verge of becoming a viable industry. But for this to succeed, government support, including the production requirements outlined in the Renewable Fuel Standard, must be consistent and reliable. This support stimulates investor confidence, which in turn generates much needed capital. Do you look into the future and see a United States independent of foreign oil? If so, look now at the Renewable Fuels Standard.”

Matt is exactly right. Government support generates investor confidence. But just where are we in the investment arena?

On January 23 Biofuels Digest published, VC investment in US biofuels reaches $680.2 million in 2008. According to Biofuels Digest that included,

$437 million for cellulosic ethanol, $175.9 million in microalgae, $42 million in butanol and 25.3 million into systems and infrastructure providers. VC invested $110.5 million in the 4th quarter economic slowdown, after a lively $233 million in the 2nd quarter, high for the year.

Stay tuned to see what happens in 2009.

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2 Responses to Biofuels Are a Priority Says USDA's Tom Vilsack

  1. Matt Snyder says:

    At SCIPIO Biofuels Inc. we have two concepts to publicize.

    First, we have either patent pending, by exclusive agreement or selected from industry all necessary technologies (including continuous, size selective, filterless microalgae harvesting) to create algae based biofuels and sequestrable biomass on an industrial scale cheaply and without feed-stock conflicts. To grossly over simplify, it’s just plant food & water, and sunlight is free.

    Second, literally every single VC we’ve talked to, thought they could rob us with a pen. If there is an honest, ethical and trustworthy VC living on the Earth today, I’d appreciate an introduction. Since I’m not a mind-reader. I don’t know how to tell the honest, moral and ethical from the liar, cheat and thief.

    The fact is that my company does have an economically viable, sustainable way to make all the biofuels America needs. We genuinely want to make this happen to make our country stronger and the world cleaner. We believe a national de-centralized biofuels production infrastructure should be approached and managed as though it were a public trust. Why? Because in effect, it is a public trust. A trust trampled and laughed at by the greedy CEO’s in many different industries we are seeing on the nightly news robbing America as a whole and many of us individually, with a pen.

    When we Americans voted in November, it was for “change”. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road regarding changing the way business in America hasn’t been working for many years. Where is the change? Or, is that just lip-service? Where are the HONEST, ETHICAL, and TRUSTWORTHY VC’s? How do start-ups like mine make VC’s prove their intentions? These are fair questions deserving answers. Until we find and work these answers, we are unable and unwilling to begin in earnest the greening of America which (if we’re allowed to participate) will restore our national economy in years, not decades.

    We are altruists at heart and genuinely want to demonstrate FOR ALL TO SEE how easily it can be done with mostly off-the-shelf parts. But, we need to make a living like everyone else. We shouldn’t have to bend over for any VC’s ego trip just because they have cheated their way off the economic bottom, and we won’t. We are so disappointed with the entire VC industry that we’re willing to stop, wait & watch Climate Change actually be understood through experience by the general populace (including the VC;s) before we’ll give up control of the results of many years of personal sacrifice, self-funded, hard-earned R&D work. What part of that causes VC’s a problem? Billions in profit not enough? Too bad, play fair. We will if you will.

    We really do have a valid human response to Climate Change. All a VC has is money. In a few years, enough people will figure out that blame for this piss-poor response of America to Climate Change on the greed of the VC’s for the failure of the experiment called the human race. They are the one’s who are keeping honest and motivated (and altruistic) inventors with the best solutions underground out of fear of being robbed by some unethical, amoral, over-monied, ego-tripping do-nothing calling himself a Venture Capitalist. Why? Simple, because stealing intellectual property is a criminal offense government hasn’t arrested and tried anybody for, and doesn’t care about.

    Change IS coming. Will it come from what we call, “Production Control” or “Production Reaction”? The decision is primarily in the hands of the VC’s.

  2. Dixie Burkhart says:

    Time will only tell if Vilsack policies are good for the country. Of equal concern is his history of lack of transparency and ethics. Obama says he wants this in his administration, but with all the questionable administration picks one can only wonder if it is Chicago politics gone to Washington.

    Dixie Burkhart
    Facts Don’t Matter

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