|Chad Lowe in SF Sentinel|
Although the conference was generally upbeat, various biomass trade organizations took to the stage to lament the inaction in Washington, D.C. that has resulted in the lapsing of investment tax credits and production tax credits that have served to level the playing field. Now before you start slinging your "government shouldn't pick winners" stones, let's reflect on other fledgling industries for whom those same credits are not expiring entities but matters of fixed law (think coal and oil). If you are a small business owner who has sat across from banks and investors who were reluctant to invest because, "we just don't know what the government is going to do" then you may feel free to engage on the topic. If you are in the coal or oil industry, I will drop mine when you drop yours.
The inactivity of our government to set energy policy or even act to preserve American industries and jobs is somewhat balanced by DOD's very agressive posture in energy. Some of my closest friends, who I respect immensly, have taken me to task regarding this point. "DOD is not in the green energy business" they say. I agree. They are in the mission accomplishment business. That mission is to deter agression and, if that fails, fight and win our Nation's wars. If oil cannot be used as an economic weapon against us, that is a form of detering agression. If bases can access locally fueled energy sources which operate regardless of the public grid status, then the reach back capability so vital to our current way of waging war is perserved. I would love it if Exxon or other "energy" folks were creating demand for biofuels; but they are not. If DOD creates the demand, it is not just a "greenie" thing but a strategic effort to counter our dependence on a commodity we don't control (or set the price for, Newt). By the same token, only grid tied, but independent energy for bases is true energy security. It ain't a green thing; its a national security thing. Dan Nolan