Placeholder Banner

Champions of Change

April 19, 2012
This afternoon the White House honored nine individuals as Champions of Change who are making a difference advancing new ideas that are leading the way to a clean energy future and an economy that’s built to last.

“This event will highlight individuals who are demonstrating how environmental leadership contributes not just to the well-being of our planet, but to our economic growth and our public health. Every day, these Champions rise to meet some of the most significant environmental challenges of the 21st century,” according to a White House blog post.

"Supporting homegrown sources of renewable energy is a key part of the president's all-of-the-above energy strategy to create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen national security," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "The leaders we've selected as Champions of Change are helping to grow our economy, reduce pollution in our communities and position America as a world leader in clean energy," she noted in an OPIS news report.

Honorees include James Liao, Parsons Foundation Professor of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, at the University of California, Los Angeles. Liao has played a significant role as a leader in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology creating microbial technologies for production of fuel and chemicals. He has a proven track record for commercializing innovative biofuels processes to create advanced biofuels such as biobutanol. Currently he is researching electrofuels and him and his team has created a process to convert electricity and carbon dioxide to be used as a gasoline substitute.

Jerome Taylor, a 30-year employee and CEO of MFA Oil, was honored as well. MFA Oil is a farmer-owned cooperative that also distributes ethanol and biodiesel blends. In the 1960s, MFA Oil first entered the renewable fuels markets with its purchase of an ethanol plant. Now the company invests in oil refining and biodiesel production. In 2011, MFA Oil entered into a partnership with Aloterra Energy, to capitalize on the unique qualities of miscanthus giganteous as an energy crop. This non-invasive perennial does not require significant inputs, can grow on marginal ground, is carbon neutral, and produces significant tonnage per acre. The company also sponsors three Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) areas, covering eight counties in Arkansas and 16 counties in Missouri. The BCAP provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks.

Also honored as Champions of Change were Alan Samuels, Erin Geegan, Kevin Frank, Vernice Creese, Ed O’Rourke, Erik Ingersoll and Jan Blittersdorf for their roles in leading the way to a clean energy future.