NBB Federal Affairs VP Eyes Industry Growth

Anne Steckel is excited, energized and ready for the new rules of Washington
By Luke Geiver | September 08, 2011

Anne Steckel believes the political atmosphere in Washington, D.C., is fluid and unstable, but as the new vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, she believes this is an exciting time for the industry. Steckel was attending a biodiesel retreat in Missouri, just two days into her new role, when Biodiesel Magazine reached her to ask about her experience, view of the industry and goals for the coming months.

Although the easy assumption of Steckel’s near-term focus might be based on renewing the biodiesel tax incentive set to expire at the end of the year, Steckel explains that she has larger plans. “My biggest goal is to grow the industry,” she says. “The tax incentive is on my agenda, and making sure the RFS is implemented correctly,” but she stresses, “the number one thing is to grow the industry.”  

To do that, Steckel plans to draw on her experience in Washington. Since 1997, she has lived in the nation’s capital and worked in a variety of policy-based roles. “I worked on Capitol Hill for nearly a decade on both the House and the Senate side,” she says. “I’ve done energy and agriculture policy, they’ve kind of been my specialties.” She has also lobbied for both the American Farm Bureau and Growth Energy, one of two leading trade organizations for the ethanol industry. Steckel's most recent position was as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and previously she served U.S. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

One might think the record year for biodiesel production may seem to be a great thing happening during a bad political time, but that isn’t how Steckel sees it. “Members are very energized and excited, and so I’m thrilled to be part of an organization that is moving in the right direction,” she says. And although the political climate on the Hill is “very fluid,” she says people have operated under a certain set of rules for a long time, but those times are changing. “I think we see that the old rules don’t really apply.”

Her entrance into the Washington NBB office couldn’t come at a better time, she says, as Congress will be in recess, allowing her to get acclimated to her new home as she takes over for Manning Feraci, former vice president of federal affairs, who left for a role in the solar industry. In 2010, the NBB was able to get the tax incentive extended through a larger package of tax-based legislation, but given the uncertainty of the current climate (Steckel points to the near debacle with the debt ceiling as an example), she explains that she will be exploring all options for finding a vehicle of legislation to renew the tax incentive. “It depends on what is going to be moving in Congress,” she says. “There are not a whole lot of vehicles that are going to be moving through Congress, so assessing what is actually moving and how we can insert ourselves is something we will be looking at.”

—Luke Geiver

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