The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition at 25: A Group of Governors Who Changed the Nation’s Energy History

Source: By Governors' Biofuels Coalition • Posted: Friday, September 16, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  September 15, 2016

The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition at 25:

A Group of Governors Who Changed the Nation’s Energy History 

“No one would have guessed that a meeting I had with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad 25 years ago this month, in the basement of the governor’s mansion in Lincoln, Nebraska, would lead to the formation ofa group of governors who changed the nation’s energy history,” said former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator Ben Nelson.

“It was a simple idea,” said Larry Pearce, the Coalition’s executive director who worked for Ben Nelson when he was governor.  “We organized a group of governors devoted to increasing ethanol production in their states.  They were a group of like-minded governors with a focused message and a powerful voice that helped change the nation’s energy future.”

Membership in the Coalition quickly grew to 19 states during the first year, and peaked with 36 states along with international representatives from Brazil, Quebec, Mexico, Australia, Sweden and Thailand.

For the next few years, the Coalition’s governors worked to increase public understanding of ethanol’s environmental and economic benefits. The governors were slowly laying the foundation for a national initiative that would change the nation’s energy landscape.

Beginning in 2003, the Coalition’s governors began working with Congressional leadership and the White House on legislation that would allow biofuels to fairly compete with the petroleum industry in the transportation fuel market — a market that the petroleum industry had dominated for more than a 100 years.

The result of that collaboration was the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which   members of Congress from both parties overwhelmingly supported. President George W. Bush signed the RFS into law in 2005.  Two years later, President Bush signed an expanded RFS that would pave the way for the production of cellulosic ethanol and biofuels from diverse feedstocks.

“Passage of the RFS would not have happened without bipartisanship leadership from the states,” said Senator Nelson, who was the floor manager for the RFS legislation in the Senate. “It would have been impossible to pass the RFS without the work and collaboration of senators from both sides of the aisle. Although they were from different parties, they all agreed that something had to be done to end the petroleum industry’s monopoly of the nation’s transportation fuel market.”

Many governors also worked to pass the RFS. The rest is history: billions invested in new biofuels plants, thousands of new jobs, and revitalization of the nation’s rural economy.

“Twenty-five years later, the spirit of bipartisanship, so rare in today’s political arena, remains the Coalition’s foundation,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and co-founder of the Coalition. “It’s my hope that the Coalition can redouble its efforts to address the challenges and opportunities facing the biofuels industry today.”


            The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition has provided regional and national leadership on biofuels policy development. The bipartisan Coalition is comprised of governors from across the nation. The governors share a concern that the nation’s dependence on petroleum is both economically and environmentally unsustainable, and presents an unacceptable risk to our national security. The Coalition’s policy activities address all aspects of biofuels development and use. For more information, visit


 Governors’ Biofuels Coalition at 25