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The Final Word by Jim Thompson
Some cautions for the nascent biofuels business. It looks like cracks are beginning to appear in the biodiesel market here in the United States. One example of the problems are those of Earth Biofuels of Dallas, Texas. This company, whose primary promoter is singer Willie Nelson, has been widely reported as having trouble paying its bills. One investment company won a USD 15 million plus judgment against it in April. Other similar problems are popping up in the biofuels business elsewhere.

From a pulp and paper industry perspective, I am concerned (and I sincerely hope I am wrong) that the promises of biofuels smell (no pun intended) much like the recycled fiber bubble of 1995. We must be very careful to head down a path of sound business judgment, not one of emotional exuberance.

Your writer would further suggest that the taxing protocol adopted by the U.S. government, and many other sovereignties, when it comes to fuel taxes and tax relief, is upside down. For more than a couple of decades, I have suggested that the tax on imported oil should be 100% and the tax on domestically produced oil or manufactured oil substitutes should be 0% (and forget specialized tax relief for those producing fuels from sustainable sources). I speak of this separately and distinctly from current federal and local taxes commonly known as "road taxes."

Of course, not being a politician makes it easy for me to suggest, but I say if we must have taxes, let us properly motivate the entire consuming (not producing) population to behave in a manner aligned with national security interests, no matter the country in which one lives. This is the quickest way to energy independence. Unfortunately it does not serve the wishes of special interests groups, which have a great deal of influence in parliamentary bodies around the world.

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