It's Time to Rock the House

By Joe Jobe | March 09, 2009
It is easy to tell when a great concert is about to start. The house lights go down. The buzz, click and whir of pyrotechnics, lights and electric guitars pop through powerful speakers.

The din of the crowd escalates to a huge roar. One chord, lights, drums and the show takes the stage. It takes the coordination of countless unique components working together to pull it off. Imagine the chaos if each musician just got up there and did his or her own thing, or if the lights weren't coordinated with the music. A great concert works because those components work together, and only because they work together.

The U.S. biodiesel industry is one of the most technically diverse industries imaginable. Industry leaders are from all walks of life and all parts of the country, using different feedstocks, technologies, plant sizes and business models. That diversity has made it difficult at times to keep everyone on the same sheet of music. But it is also what gives the biodiesel industry such a broad appeal. Unity as an industry was the call to action in my opening speech at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in San Francisco in February. I am even more convinced that remaining unified and coordinated as an industry is the only way that we will be able to face the enormous economic and political challenges ahead.

The biodiesel industry is under attack by wealthy and powerful groups who are trying to protect the status quo and snuff out the promise of biofuels. One tactic they employ is to say that we need to move away from first-generation biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel and move on to second-generation biofuels. This approach labels biodiesel as the 8-track technology of alternative fuels, implying that we should skip directly to compact discs. Biodiesel is not 8-track technology; it would be more accurately compared to MP3 technology.

The fact is that when it comes to renewable alternatives to diesel fuel, biodiesel is really the only thing that is working. It is biodiesel that is driving innovation, and stimulating the agricultural and plant science research that is helping to increase supplies of protein for food and feed using the same acres of land. It is biodiesel that is helping to keep family farms profitable so that their land is not gobbled up by urban sprawl.

We know that biodiesel has the highest energy density of any alternative fuel and the best fossil energy balance of any fuel. Of the significant available options in the commercial marketplace, biodiesel is the most sustainable heavy duty transportation fuel in the world.

But just like a great concert, the only way we can be heard is if we work together. Uniting our talents and resources allows us to tackle industry-wide challenges with a united voice. Instead of cannibalizing our own resources by competing for the stage, working together gives us the strength to leverage support from a variety of funders to overcome the adversity we face.

We're here. We're getting better all the time. We are the future and not the past. We are ready to rock the house.

Joe Jobe
Chief Executive Officer
National Biodiesel Board
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