Monday, February 23, 2009

American Farm Bureau Editorial

Renewable Energy is the American Way
By Robert Stallman, American Farm Bureau President

Washington--While the Obama administration and 111th Congress set up shop in Washington, farmers across the nation are revving up for what President Obama has said will be a major component of his presidency – a renewed focus on renewable energy. Farmers should expect to ramp up our efforts to provide clean, green energy to fuel the country.

Thinking Green
Farmers have long been proponents and suppliers of renewable fuels. It is Farm Bureau’s belief that America must transition to a nation fueled by clean, renewable, domestic energy to achieve long-term economic growth, create a cleaner environment and shield our economy from unreliable foreign energy sources.

With the same goal in mind, President Obama has said he will strive to create 5 million “green-collar jobs” during his administration, which means growing jobs at home. U.S. ethanol production already accounts for 250,000 home-grown jobs, and that number is growing. But it doesn’t stop there.

Cellulosic ethanol is the next worthy target. Until efficiency improves, incentives may be necessary to encourage production and handling of the cellulosic crops that drive this promising sector. Current reports indicate that grain-based ethanol continues to own a comparative economic advantage over second-generation, cellulosic biofuels. America’s enterprising farmers will do what they can to move this notion to commercial reality.

Midwest v. Middle East

So how do we do it?
Farm Bureau supported passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard. That measure transitions our domestic fuel supply to non-petroleum based biofuels. It also provides a federal commitment to conservation and energy efficiency, as well as the targeted, responsible domestic production of a broad array of energy resources.Although passed, some provisions in the bill still need to be implemented.

Meanwhile, Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for more access to ourdomestic oil and natural gas supplies. Accesstooffshore drilling would open up areas as close as three miles off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and part of the Gulf of Mexico. The more than 20-year congressional ban on offshore drilling was not extended in the last Congress, which means we are one step closer to furthering oil exploration in our own country.

Many naysayers argue that fuel prices have fallen, so why bother? Granted, energy prices are down now, but we don’t know how the economy will shake out. Further, our country was built on long-tern vision and wherewithal, and it is certain that long-term energy demand will require production from all sources, including renewable fuels.

Focusing on clean-and-green, renewable energy not only provides jobs for more Americans, but also a greater degree of energy independence. All forms of renewable energy, including wind, solar and others, represent a long-term investment in the American way of life.

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