Ethanol and Wind Power for Rural Revitalization and Energy Security
New study shows that harvesting ethanol and wind from America’s farms and fields can produce substantial new energy, enhance the environment and help rural communities
Madison, WI (PRWEB) February 3, 2006
As Wisconsin residents pay higher energy bills, farm, environmental and a bi-partisan group of political leaders kicked off Ag Day at the Capitol today by releasing a new report recommending a series of federal and state policy changes to help American agriculture provide a significant share of the nation’s energy needs, revitalize rural economies and provide clean air and water. All regions of the country, including Wisconsin, could benefit by producing more biofuels and by developing wind energy.
The report, “The New Harvest: Biofuels and Wind Power for Rural Revitalization and National Energy Security,” shows that biofuels could largely replace gasoline in light-duty cars and trucks by 2050 -- if policies are put into place now. Ethanol from many sources of cellulose -- including corn stover, wheat straw, prairie grasses and wood waste -- has great potential. Wind power, at costs competitive with coal and natural gas electricity, could provide 10 percent of U. S. power supplies by 2020.
"This study shows a way to cut energy costs, help family farmers and the environment, and make our country more energy secure," said Senator Mark Miller of Monona. "Ethanol, especially E85 from biosources like prairie grass, is essential to Wisconsin’s energy future."
These new sources of clean energy would increase our country’s energy security at a time when burgeoning Asian economies are increasing their demand for a limited global supply of fossil fuels. Rural economies also would benefit greatly because bio-refineries and the wind power infrastructure would provide new income for farmers and jobs for local communities.
"We have to think big picture and long-term energy strategy in both Wisconsin and America. Biofuels are going to play an important role in that strategy but we have to move beyond lip service and start to act decisively," said Representative Steve Freese of Dodgeville, Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly and long-time ethanol supporter.
For example, selling corn for ethanol can increase a farmer’s income by $10 per acre. A single ethanol plant can add $110 million to the local economic base. Similarly, using land to generate wind power can increase a farmer’s income by thousands of dollars per year, create construction and infrastructure jobs and generate millions in property taxes for local institutions. At a time when global trade treaties are changing the current farm subsidy payments system, these new income sources could sustain rural economies and tax-supported institutions.
"The New Harvest report shows that farmers are on the front lines to provide energy for a better America and a more secure Wisconsin," said Paul Zimmerman, Executive Director of Government Relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. "We want to work with the state and conservation groups to make Wisconsin more energy independent and to give Wisconsin's family farmers more markets for their crops."
The report, funded by the Energy Foundation in partnership with the McKnight Foundation, calls for a national partnership of agricultural and energy interests and a bipartisan political strategy to unite and solidify a rapidly growing Ag-Energy sector.
“The New Harvest report demonstrates that we in the United States and the Midwest can be the producers, not just the consumers of energy. With that can come the benefits of a clean environment, a robust rural economy and energy independence, said Chris Deisinger, a consultant to the Energy Foundation. “The Energy Foundation and the McKnight Foundation are pleased to support such efforts.”
The report answers questions that have been raised about renewable energy -- questions about efficiency, the ability to grow food and fuel at the same time and the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce ethanol. It concludes that new technologies and new ethanol-compatible crops such as switchgrass can make Ag Energy a win-win-win for America’ energy security, rural economy and the environment if policies are put into place soon.
"We are the first state in the nation to consider a goal of 20% ethanol from biosources like prairie grass and other sources of cellulose," said Representative Terese Berceau of Madison, the sponsor of the amendment. "Wisconsin can lead bioethanol development."
A new study just published in the prestigious journal “Science” also says that “Ethanol can replace gasoline with significant energy savings…” “This report and the new Science study prove once and for all the biofuels like ethanol can save lives, jobs and money,” said Brett Hulsey, President of Better Environmental Solutions, an environmental health consulting firm. “The more we switch to biofuels like ethanol, the sooner we can reduce our reliance on risky foreign oil and cut air pollution in our cities.”
“Renewable energy for farmers is about more than ethanol. Farmers are part of America’s energy solution with other biofuels, windpower, solar, and biogas. Energy efficiency can help farmers control rising energy prices. The Energy Title of the 2002 Farm Bill helped tap these opportunities and needs to be strengthened in 2007 to bolster farm income, increase our nation’s energy security and help protect our environment for future generations,” Andy Olsen, Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
“Renewable energy helps ratepayers and farmers. Wind energy pays farmers thousands per machine and saves ratepayers on energy bills because wind energy is free of fuel costs,” said Michael Vickerman, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin.
For more information or to view the report, see http://www. ef. org/subsite_biofuels. cfm (http://www. ef. org/subsite_biofuels. cfm). See www. berkeley. edu/news/media/releases/2006/01/26_ethanol. shtml (http://www. berkeley. edu/news/media/releases/2006/01/26_ethanol. shtml) for the study. See www. wisconsinethanol. com for more on ethanol.
Contact: Brett Hulsey,
Or Chris Deisinger, 608-661-9009, chrisdeisinger @ yahoo. com
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