In It to Win It

By By Jessica Robinson | May 19, 2010
"No matter what happens, do not stop playing. You set the pace, you win the game."

That was my coach's pep talk as we faced a team slated to crush us to smithereens. They were better than we were, much, much better, but coach would not be deterred. She insisted that no matter how off balance the scorecard, giving in was not an option.

That was soccer, but the lesson was hard and fast. When you take on something bigger than you are, the most important part of the fight is to keep playing with all you've got. We won most of our games that season, not because we had the most talent in the league, but because we had the most will. We didn't quit, and we set the pace.

Since I joined the biodiesel family 18 months ago, the industry has faced obstacles that would have leveled a lesser competitor at first glance. The economic and credit crunch, feedstock prices, the RFS2 delay and the uphill battle to secure biodiesel's place in it, the EU tariff, the tax incentive ... a seemingly endless stream of fierce challenges have revealed an industry with a resolve that will not break, and the spirit to conquer repeated challenges.

The RFS2 rulemaking process showcased the industry's strength in a tough match. From NBB headquarters in Jefferson City, Mo., we coordinated a grassroots playbook that generated more than 8,000 comments to the U.S. EPA cheering for biodiesel. Our team positioned the needed expertise and research to counter inaccurate life-cycle analysis and other mislaid conclusions, and drafted an impenetrable fact-based defense. As a result, the rule was revised and biodiesel officially earned the title of the first domestically produced commercially available advanced biofuel.

Now we're at it again. This time the challenge is moving critical biodiesel legislation through Congress and on to the President's desk. Again we have activated our key strategies and brought in the big scorers to win the game. NBB's grassroots program has been on high power since last fall. The initiative empowers biodiesel industry leaders and supporters to make an impact. It is built around team captains carrying out targeted objectives in their states. For longer than nine months team captains have rallied contacts in key states to support the push to extend the biodiesel tax credit. Program accomplishments from the first wave of grassroots action include more than 125 earned media placements, many in national and top 100 markets, successful site visits, one-on-one conversations with President Barack Obama and an untold number of calls and communications to elected leaders.

In April, NBB launched Fueling Action, a massive expansion of this already successful grassroots initiative. All members of the NBB staff redirected their efforts to engage NBB's members and unleash the industry's most dramatic grassroots efforts to date. The expansion built on the strength of the biodiesel industry-its members. Within seven days of the campaign's kickoff, as many as 500 letters were on their way to the Capitol, hundreds of calls had hit the lines in the halls of Congress and NBB members were off the benches pushing for their industry.
My coach would surely be proud of that demonstrated ability to set the pace but I can hear from the sidelines now, "Keep playing!" It's been a long year, a long two years, but the game's still on. The industry has faced tough competitor after tough competitor but the brackets are not yet empty, the season not yet complete. With the long line of tough challengers we've already faced, and the tireless effort already invested, every voice remains absolutely critical in this effort. By definition, grassroots action relies on individual voices joining together to make an impact. The surest way to achieve success in the industry's long-term goals is to keep it up. It is imperative that we build on the progress we have already made and stay in the game.

My team left that year with a winning season. We finished what we started and let sheer will (and a ton of extra conditioning runs) drive the way. I am confident that the biodiesel industry will surely boast a winning record. Not only does the fuel we all champion offer the benefits it promises and that our nation needs, but also the resolve and power of the people standing behind America's first commercial-scale advanced biofuel are unstoppable.
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