Farm Industry News Blog

Code Green: Making Renewables a Common American Purpose

Has anyone read Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat, and Crowded? If so, please write and tell me what you think.

I just finished the first chapter and am already inspired. Friedman lays out the case of why America needs to move beyond 9/11 fear and lethargy, and toward nation-building right here in the United States. We need to move beyond a Code Red mindset toward a Code Green one where America is “united and propelled by a common purpose, not a common enemy.”

That common purpose is reinventing America as the world’s “greenest country.” This, Friedman writes, “is not a selfless act of charity or naïve moral indulgence. It is now a core national security and economic interest.”

“Why we need a green revolution—and how it can renew America” is the book’s subtitle. I’m looking forward to reading more over the next few nights to see how biofuels, wind and solar energy, and more will figure in to creating a stronger, more economically stable America.

Economic Stimulus Bill

In the past few days, I’ve been talking with some small wind energy equipment manufacturers who look forward to passage of the economic stimulus bill. While the Senate is still debating the bill, the small wind industry people believe provisions to keep the wind energy industry growing and creating jobs will survive. The small wind energy market already is growing by 25% annually. If federal subsidies are uncapped, the small wind industry could grow by as much as 50% annually, one small wind expert says.

While some might wonder why I’m writing about wind energy in this biofuels blog, it is an important part of the renewable energy solution to our national security and economic concerns. It is part of a “silver buckshot” approach in which biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and more will help renew America.

The economic stimulus bill would improve tax incentives for farmers and other rural landowners interested in installing small wind turbines. It would also provide for a three-year extension of the production tax credit and includes several provisions to promote transmission for renewable energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The bill, which passed the House and is now being debated by the Senate, proposes $18.5 billion be appropriated for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Not less than $800 million is to be appropriated for biomass and $400 million is to be appropriated for geothermal technologies. To view the other proposals related to renewable energy, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c111:3:./temp/~c111E5VMzu:e121224:

Regardless of the outcome of the stimulus bill, renewable energy has momentum--spurred on by investors, researchers and producers who see promise in new technologies.

Do you think that America can reinvent itself as the world’s greenest country or that it can at least unify behind a Code Green strategy? Can renewable energy become a cornerstone of the American economy? I think it’s possible. Please send your thoughts.

COMMENT

I have completed the Freidman book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, and except for his negative bias about US ethanol I completely agree with his points, very enlightening. Too many people somehow have the impression that US ethanol has too many subsidies. I typically ask, "what subsidies?" and no one answers. Yes all new industries that create jobs are incentivized with tax credits. Yes there is a blending tax credit, and yes there are tariffs to help establish infra structure and encourage the massive amount of production needed, but unlike the "bail-outs", there is an ending outcome which is Freidman's point, about furthering the "green" revolution, and reducing dependance on foreign oil. The public opinion seems to be that corn for ethanol is NOT the answer. Never thought it was, just a part of the puzzle to engage the enterprising American ingenuity to develop better solutions and focus on something like corn which is completely renewable!

Terry Howell

Urbana, Ohio

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Jodie Wehrspann, Kathy Huting, Lynn Grooms, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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