Franken touts viability of renewable energy for rural Minnesota

(By Linda Vanderwerf, published by West Central Tribune, Willmar)
WILLMAR – Renewable energy could be the driving force behind economic growth in rural Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Al Franken said Wednesday.

Franken toured some local energy projects in Willmar after spending a day and a half in Morris on a similar tour. He was recently appointed to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I’ve always felt this part of Minnesota can be an economic engine that renewable energy is at the center of,” Franken said during a visit to the Tribune offices Wednesday afternoon.

In Willmar, he met with city and Kandiyohi County officials and learned more about renewable energy projects in the area, including several geothermal projects and the city’s wind turbines.

In Morris, Franken toured renewable energy projects at the University of Minnesota-Morris, the West Central Research and Outreach Center and the Agricultural Research Service Soils Lab in Morris on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. He also participated Wednesday morning in a two-hour Energy Roundtable Forum at UMM.

Franken said he has worked to maintain tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel producers, something he feels will support jobs in rural Minnesota.
(Full article at http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/78855/)

Our Take:
Here’s someone who gets it. Minnesota is lucky to have two Senators and a delegation in the House that gets renewable energy, for the most part.

Now, what people who know about the incredible value of ethanol, especially to rural communities, but also as a foundation for a more secure national economy–what we ethanol supporters need to worry about is educating the 100 freshmen Representatives entering Congress now, many of whom are from urban and suburban districts, who feel that their real mandate is to cut every piece of government spending possible.

While we applaud government efficiency and deplore the ballooning deficit, there may be some cuts that will be penny wise and pound foolish. Keeping support for ethanol at this critical time in its growth is essential.

This is the challenge–to convince them that spending on ethanol, particularly on the expansion of infrastructure that will make high ethanol blends available to the broad driving public, is an investment with an immediate return in jobs, economic activity, energy independence, and environmental benefits.

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