25x’25 Steering Committee Member Michael Bowman, White House ‘Champion of Change’ Alum, Meets with Obama
(25 x ’25) Wray, CO Advocate Urges President to Lend More Support to Bioenergy Development, Support Higher Ethanol Blends
Mike Bowman, a member of the National 25x’25 Alliance’s Steering Committee, met with President Obama today and outlined the Alliance’s recommendations and priorities to affirm the role of bioenergy in the nation’s renewable energy future. Bowman joined 11 other White House “Champions of Change” alumni who met with the president to discuss renewable energy development and policy and celebrate the program’s one-year anniversary.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of the president’s “Winning the Future” initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of “champions,” ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, have been recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
Bowman is a Wray, CO, wheat, corn and alfalfa producer and a member of a fifth-generation Colorado farm family. He is a founding member of the 25x’25 Alliance since 2004, and is also a member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Forum, and Rural Chair of the Colorado Ag Energy Task Force.
In a letter presented to the president on behalf of 25x’25, Bowman commends Obama for his “leadership in encouraging bipartisan support for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy platform that includes accelerating the development and deployment of clean energy solutions from our nation’s farms, ranches and forests.”
Bowman also points out that as a senator from Illinois, Obama was one of first endorsers of the 25x’25 renewable energy goal. And while great progress has been made towards the goal, “pushback from our opponents is intensifying as Congress moves to cut spending and reduce the national deficit. Now, more than ever, we need you to continue to affirm the economic, environmental and national security benefits of renewable energy – especially bioenergy.”
The letter urges the president to continue to oppose any effort to reopen and modify the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, a critical driver of biofuel markets.
Bowman also asks the president to allow U.S. agriculture to help the auto industry meet new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards through the use of cleaner, higher octane biofuels, including E30, rather than high-octane aromatics, which contain include highly carcinogenic petroleum-based compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene. By approving the use of intermediate level ethanol blends, such as E30, to meet the automakers’ need for clean, higher octane fuel in the pending CAFE rulemaking, “thousands of lives and billions of dollars in public health expenditures” would result annually through reductions in fine particle air pollution, Bowman’s letter says.
The letter also asks the president to not only support direct federal outlays to incentivize the establishment of energy crops or the construction of biorefineries, but to also try new approaches, such as providing accelerated depreciation to biorefiners who help farmers and foresters produce bioenergy feedstocks, like perennial grasses, crop and forest residues, or short rotation woody biomass crops.
Another suggested course recommended to the president is to modernize the Securities and Exchange Commission’s hydrocarbon reserves disclosure system to include a “renewable reserves” category so those involved in the production of fuel can be valued on the basis of both their “brown” and “green” barrel equivalent reserves. Further, the White House is urged to appoint “a task force to surface and evaluate fresh ideas such as these for producing bioenergy feedstocks and constructing commercial scale biorefineries.”
Finally, because biofuels and biomass energy systems enjoy distinct benefits over fossil energy, including low, and in some cases, no carbon emissions, Bowman and the 25x’25 Alliance urge the president to ensure that EPA’s policies, such as the Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule, promote rather than discourage biomass as a carbon beneficial energy solution and thereby remove uncertainty in the marketplace.
“We created the Champions of Change program to honor ordinary Americans who are doing extraordinary things,” President Obama said. “By making their communities better places to live, our champions are helping to ensure that our country’s best days lie ahead.”
In addition to his work with 25x’25, Bowman is also a founding board member of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and Shadowcliff, a Colorado-based environmental non-profit education facility in Grand County, CO. Over the past seven years, he has spoken nationally and internationally on issues related to rural development, sustainability and energy.
Excerpts from Mike Bowman’s letter:
…We also want to commend you for the agreement you struck with the auto industry which will result in the production of a new generation of vehicles that will meet higher fuel efficiency standards. This was a signature achievement in America’s evolving new energy future. The agricultural community stands ready to help the automobile industry meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards through the production of the higher octane fuels needed for
these new engines.
However, there is a big difference between clean octane and dirty octane, and we are prepared to partner with your administration to ensure the new standards are met without backsliding on the environment or public health. If high octane biofuels instead of aromatics, which include highly carcinogenic petroleum-based compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene, were blended into gasoline to increase octane and engine performance, thousands of lives and billions of dollars in public health expenditures could be saved annually through reductions in fine particle air pollution. We urge you to support the approval of intermediate level ethanol blends (e.g., E30) to meet the automakers’ need for clean, higher octane fuel in the pending CAFE rulemaking. READ MORE
From Mike Bowman’s Blog Post:
…When it was my turn to share, I told the president: Biomass and biofuels are a “big deal.” I walked him through the math of our existing resources and put it into a context we could all appreciate: If we simply converted 17 percent of the known, annual agricultural and forest waste into biofuels, we would create a supply of domestic fuel three times the amount that would flow down the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This is a domestic resource that can create thousands of new jobs, keeping the dollars our nation spends on energy within our own economy (and not to foreign oil producers) and creating a vibrant tax base across the entire country. READ MORE