Out of Left Field: Biofuels: The Good Fight

Every day, we witness the great political divide: Conservative versus Liberal. Democrat versus Republican. Left versus Right. Friendships shattered, families broken, office water cooler discussions made awkward. The battle can be both invigorating and exhausting. For some, the mere mention of politics gives them a queasy feeling, like jumping rope after an all-you-can-eat taco bar. But the fight is unavoidable. It rages on in every facet of our lives.

Church league softball (C division) batting order. My team, the Gospel Goofballs, has a long standing policy of “first come, first served.” I believe it is Ecclesiastes chapter 7 that suggests: “Ye who showeth up first on Thursday nights after work shall bat first, regardless of ability or recent history of batting success.” This is a point of political debate between goofballs. Liberal-leaning Goofballs praise the policy, citing fairness, sharing and equality as the proper strategy. Conservative Goofballs contend that hard work and success should be rewarded. They advocate a batting order determined strictly on merit. (It’s important as you re-read those last sentences that you remember “Goofballs” is the name of our team.) The fight rages on.

Salsa club. It’s like book club, but with salsa and minus the burden of reading. Traditional salsa club values suggest chips and salsa alone have met the needs of its members since the club’s inception. Energetic new members have suggested an addendum to the original constitution, inviting use of other condiments like guacamole and hummus. Some welcome the fresh, progressive ideas while others cite a “slippery-slope” argument. If guac and hummus are allowed, what’s next? Tzatziki sauce? Perhaps chips could be replaced by carrots and pepper slices? Might as well dip treason sticks into a sauce of betrayal. The fight rages on.

Two siblings, one scoop of ice cream, one cookie. Sibling A may ignore his extreme lactose intolerance and consume the ice cream, simply to deprive sibling B of happiness. Sibling B gobbles up the cookie (despite severe gluten allergies) while taunting sibling A. Both siblings could have attained easy wins. However, both LOSE while wasting valuable resources at the same time. Both siblings incorrectly theorize that if my opponent loses, I win. That same erroneous mindset infects much of our nation’s politics, assuming that for all issues, there is always one winner and one loser. We’ve been so conditioned to focus on winning and losing that we often ignore a mutually beneficial idea that actually moves society forward.

And that brings us to biofuels. When biofuels policies are supported, one political side of the isle wins, and one loses, right? Let’s take a closer look:

Biofuels are an American-made product. They reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which strengthens our national security. Dollars that would otherwise be spent supporting regimes that don’t like us very much are instead kept at home, boosting our economy. Growth in the biofuels sector means more American jobs and robust agriculture and manufacturing industries. With proper infrastructure buildout, consumers have their choice of fuel. The free market can truly work its magic. These sounds like conservative values to me!

Biofuels also represent a renewable fuel that is environmentally friendly. It’s a diverse energy source that can be generated from various feedstocks found in every corner of the world. It’s an innovative solution that continues to become even greener and more efficient with each incremental (and breakthrough) technological advancement. A successful biofuels industry doesn’t only benefit a select few; the positive impacts of cleaner air and distributed economic opportunity are shared across the globe. All wins for progressive ideologies!

Biofuels is the rare issue that checks boxes for the left and the right. Therefore, biofuels are both a conservative thing and a liberal thing. A Republican thing and a Democrat thing. A free market thing and an environmental-benefit thing. An economic driver thing. A jobs thing. An American Heartland thing. A family farm thing. A cleaner air thing. A socially conscious thing.

These are not competing concepts; they all apply to the same product. We can achieve all these benefits and both sides can win — but only if we are united.

There’s a reason the saying goes, “Keep fighting the good fight.” Not every fight is “good.” Invite a little compromise into the small stuff. Bickering over softball batting order, chip dip and ice cream may not be the best use of our time and energy. Save your passion for a “good fight.”

Biofuels are worth fighting for. Let’s fight together.




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