As expected the new Biden administration and the new Congress are putting an emphasis on climate issues. President Biden’s decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline was an early preview of things to come for the energy industry. Many are feeling the impact of losing their jobs and despite promises of new jobs to come in green energy that transition will take time if it happens at all. There is also a lot of conversation about moving away from fossil fuels and towards electric vehicles. GM is talking about ending production of combustible engines by 2035. Proponents call this an evolution but opponents, especially those losing jobs, see it as a revolution. Already displaced workers and rural communities are speaking out against the moves and more will surely follow. The powerful oil industry will certainly fight to protect its market. The biofuels industry, touting its environmental benefits, hopes to take advantage of the near term opportunity but has to be concerned about their long term future. Ironically this move away from fossil fuels could create an alliance between oil and biofuels after a long adversarial history. For that to happen however, the biofuels industry would have to feel they could trust the oil industry and that could take awhile. Ironically this alliance could have happened years ago if the oil industry hadn’t viewed biofuels as a threat rather than an ally. Now Big Oil may see a bigger threat in this green movement and finally realize how much they need biofuels. Incoming ag secretary Tom Vilsack has a track record supporting biofuels and should be an important ally in the new administration. Incoming EPA administrator Michael Regan is saying the right things concerning the RFS and the role of biofuels but so did his predecessors. The biofuels industry has learned the hard way that actions are more important than words. Secretaries of Agriculture tend to be more supportive of biofuels than EPA administrators and sometimes they play a good cop/bad cop game. Hopefully that won’t be the case this time. Evolution takes time and speeding it up can lead to revolution. A change of this magnitude won’t be easy. People don’t usually respond well to change being forced upon them so we had better buckle up for a bumpy ride.
Evolution or Revolution