A coalition of business, agriculture, and environmental groups asked Congress Tuesday to spend more than a billion dollars of economic stimulus money to develop renewable energy programs in rural areas.
As Pete Springer reports, some of this money would go towards clean energy development in Oregon, as well as new methods of farming.
The coalition wants Congress to invest in agriculture-based energy production.
That would include development of cellulosic ethanol for fuel.
Julie Sibbing is with the National Wildlife Federation, one of the groups in the coalition.
She says cellulosic ethanol is more sustainable than corn based ethanol.
Julie Sibbing “And actually has the potential to produce perhaps three times as much fuel per acre as corn ethanol. So we’re talking about something that is a whole lot more energy efficient and productive. And has a lighter impact on the environment.”
Sibbing says expensive bio-fuels can be a tough sell when gas prices are low. But she says now is the time to invest in developing those fuels.
Julie Sibbing “It’s not just about gas prices. It’s about whether we’re going to have a clean world that we’re able to produce plenty of food and provide for our children in the future.”
The coalition says farms in rural Oregon could also play a big role in clean energy development by growing wheat straw for livestock feed.
Wheat straw is more sustainable than hay – which is what is currently used to feed livestock.
Other businesses in Oregon that would benefit from the proposal are solar and wind power companies.
Andy Olsen is with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, another group in the coalition. He says solar and wind companies need tax dollars for research and development.
Andy Olsen “We’re seeing layoffs at wind turbine blade and tower manufacturing plants that were, just last year, expanding and opening new plants. The reality is that this economic downturn has brought implications for all sorts of industries and it’s being felt far and wide.”
The coalition is asking Congress to invest $1.2 billion in existing agriculture and energy programs to support renewable energy.
The money would be part of the next multi -billion dollar economic stimulus package for the nation’s ailing economy.