The Wall Street Journal editorial board is attacking biofuels, again. In their opinion piece, “Zero Dark Ethanol,” they write that advanced biofuels have not made much progress in the past six years and the cellulosic ethanol mandate, that was vacated last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals is “only a fantasy mandate will motivate the industry to make enough of a fantasy fuel.”
In response to the article, the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) says the Journal seems to think that motor fuel markets are free and competitive, and that in the absence of government intervention, fuels like cellulosic biofuels would succeed if worthy. Unfortunately, says AEC, 100 years of direct and indirect subsidies to the oil industry, coming at a time when the U.S. taxpayer also built out most of the large scale infrastructure that the oil industry relies on today to move its product, has largely suffocated the free market principles that would otherwise reward innovation.
AEC continues by saying that in order to fix a broken marketplace, Congress decided in 2007 to forceably diversify the motor fuel marketplace with renewable fuels. And much to the dismay of the oil industry and those who carry their water like the Journal’s editorial board, the program is working. The domestic renewable fuels industry has grown exponentially, despite the global recession, in less than 10 years.
The Journal, adds AEC, is also wrong to assert that “nothing has changed” in the cellulosic biofuels industry. AEC cites their recent progress report released last month, where they say the cellulosic biofuels industry is breaking through at commercial scale.
AEC posits that you would think that a newspaper with the ideals espoused by The Wall Street Journal would celebrate the reintroduction of U.S.-branded competition into a broken marketplace. “You would think they would lament the distortive effects of oil subsidies and question why cheaper alternatives to oil cannot seem to break into the marketplace. In that world, the Journal would be calling for the comprehensive energy tax reform we so badly need to ensure that the next generation of motor fuels are produced by Americans instead of China, India or Brazil. What we do not need is more yellow journalism about ethanol from The Wall Street Journal editorial board.”