Sometime in the next few days, a really bad piece of legislation will be sent to the governor.
To be fair, probably a handful of pretty bad ideas are heading his way. But at least one of them has already had a chilling effect on investment in a critical area of potential economic growth for Florida.
HB 4001 removes ethanol from the Florida Renewable Fuel Standards. Weirdly, this bill will have no effect on the composition of our gasoline. The Federal Renewable Fuels Standard provides for 10 percent ethanol now -- and is considering going to 15 percent.
Why? Because, right now, ethanol reduces the price of gas by 50 to 60 cents per gallon. That savings has been as much as $1 per gallon. We dont need to debate who benefits when gas prices go up.
We should, however, debate the merits of a bill that tells companies that Florida is Closed for Biotech Business. This bill sends the message that we have no need for jobs that pay as much as $30,000 over the average. That investment in bio-energy and biofuels and even biotech is not needed and that Floridians are happy to spend $1 billion annually importing energy and have no need to keep those dollars here.
Except I dont believe that Floridians think that any of those are good ideas and this governor has said hes all about jobs.
Youre wondering what companies are invested in or considering expanding their ethanol operations?
DuPont (investing in feedstock research at UF); BioFuel Energy LLC (provides ethanol for blending at the Port of Tampa and is considering production facilities in the Southeast); Iones (located in Vero Beach); Algenol (production facilities in Lee County and considering expansion ...) and there are others. There are 5,000 companies and 78,000 Floridians employed in the biotech sector and every one of them needs to be concerned about the future if the governor signs off on this bad idea.
Theres a lot of misinformation about ethanol. Most of it about corn, though now that cellulosic ethanol is about to launch commercially, the propaganda has begun there, too. Because theres no corn in Florida-grown ethanol, we can skip that argument. Pure gas? Pure-gas.org has the location nearest you.
The bottom line is the bottom line. We need to tell Gov. Rick Scott that we want clean energy security, that we want to ensure that producers and investors know that Florida is Open for Biofuel, Bio-energy and Biotech Business. We need to throw the doors open and put out the mat.
To do that, Gov. Scott needs to VETO this bad idea.
Honey Rand, Ph.D., APR, is a board member of the Florida BioEnergy Association.