Petroleum Gets a Free Pass While Biofuels Are Torn Apart (Opinion)

In what he describes as misplaced behavior, Nikola Davidson, program director for the Northwest Biofuels Association, has raised a good point in a Seattle Weekly article — why is it that biofuels are becoming the ire of green activists while petroleum appears to be getting a free pass?


The issue stems from activist and Green Party candidate for Washington governor Duff Badgley’s attempts to drive customers away from a new biofuel station in northwest Seattle. Allegedly Badgley and his group, One Earth, have been harassing customers by taking pictures of their license plates and passing out leaflets that proclaim biofuels as a “scourge on humankind.”

Biofuels certainly have a hard row to hoe in terms of reaching sustainability, and the activists have some valid concerns, but a “scourge on humanity”? Really? It’s almost laughable.

I’ve felt for a while now that biofuels are being increasingly demonized for reasons that have nothing to do with reality. Clearly biofuels will need to be managed in a way that ensures they are sustainable and economically viable, but it’s becoming apparent that the dark side of the environmental movement is misplacing their impassioned response — and certainly the establishment of Big Oil is more than happy about it.

Sure, in the not-so-distant future, improvements in batteries and energy storage will provide a way for a defined segment of society to move away from petroleum, and much further down the road hydrogen might provide a way to kick our combustion engine dependence completely.

But in the meantime we’re stuck with hundreds of millions of cars that depend on liquid fuels similar to gas and diesel — and unless we want to keep exporting billions and billions of our hard-earned dollars out of the United States to support foreign regimes that certainly don’t have our best interests in mind, we’ve got to come up with a home-grown solution.

The answer is clear: biofuels can span that gap and provide energy independence — and they can do it in a way that doesn’t affect food prices, actually costs less at the pump, and provides an environmental benefit.

The reality is that biofuels represent a clear way to quickly end our addiction on Big Oil and petroleum. As such, it dumbfounds me when the groups that should be overjoyed at the prospect of destroying our oil addiction are the same ones that appear — albeit unwittingly — to be doing Big Oil’s bidding. What gives?

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Source: Seattle Weekly (via Biofuels Digest)

Image Credit: Propel Biodiesel Station and Shell Station from skidrd’s Flickr photostream. Image reproduced and altered under a Creative Commons license.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.