The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition is celebrating its silver anniversary this month.
“No one would have guessed that a meeting I had with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad 25 years ago this month, in the basement of the governor’s mansion in Lincoln, Nebraska, would lead to the formation of a group of governors who changed the nation’s energy history,” said former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator Ben Nelson. Membership in the Coalition quickly grew to 19 states during the first year, and peaked with 36 states along with international representatives from Brazil, Quebec, Mexico, Australia, Sweden and Thailand.
“Twenty-five years later, the spirit of bipartisanship, so rare in today’s political arena, remains the Coalition’s foundation,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and co-founder of the Coalition. “It’s my hope that the Coalition can redouble its efforts to address the challenges and opportunities facing the biofuels industry today.”
Beginning in 2003, the Coalition’s governors began working with Congressional leadership and the White House on legislation that would allow biofuels to fairly compete with the petroleum industry in the transportation fuel market — a market that the petroleum industry had dominated for more than a 100 years. The result of that collaboration was the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which members of Congress from both parties overwhelmingly supported. President George W. Bush signed the RFS into law in 2005. Two years later, President Bush signed an expanded RFS that would pave the way for the production of cellulosic ethanol and biofuels from diverse feedstocks.
“Passage of the RFS would not have happened without bipartisanship leadership from the states,” said Senator Nelson, who was the floor manager for the RFS legislation in the Senate. “It would have been impossible to pass the RFS without the work and collaboration of senators from both sides of the aisle. Although they were from different parties, they all agreed that something had to be done to end the petroleum industry’s monopoly of the nation’s transportation fuel market.”
Many governors also worked to pass the RFS. The rest is history: billions invested in new biofuels plants, thousands of new jobs, and revitalization of the nation’s rural economy.