Just as the European Union was extending for five years the temporary duties the EU has slapped on American biodiesel, you would think would be the time the U.S. Trade Representative would want to talk about the protectionist tariffs with his European counterpart. Nope. Ambassador Ron Kirk had bigger fish to fry when he met with European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton in Washington this week. Like a dispute over playing Irish music in American commercial establishments. I kind you not. While what could be a lifesaver for the U.S. economy and the world’s environment is being shut out of one of the biggest markets on earth, Kirk wanted to beat his sheleighly over whether Danny Boy should be sung in pubs (I’m not sure if that’s EXACTLY what the musical dispute is all about, but you get the idea).
To be fair, as noted in this Examiner.com story, there were several other important trade issues that were discussed at the meeting this week. But, c’mon. There wasn’t enough time to fit the biodiesel issue into the agenda? Between this and EPA official Margo Oge thinking that it takes 64 acres of soybeans… no, make that 400 acres of soybeans… to make a gallon of biodiesel (she’s a little off on her math. It’s actually 64 gallons of biodiesel out of each acre of beans.), you gotta start to wonder if anyone in Washington, D.C. is really looking out for U.S. biodiesel producers.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that biodiesel production in Europe jumped by more an 35 percent in 2008 and is expected to grow even more this year, despite the fact that half the plants on the continent are not operating because of poor demand. The tariffs keeping the American biodiesel out of Europe are seen as major factors for the projected growth.