The National 25x'25 Alliance congratulates President Obama and members of Congress, both those returning and those new to Washington, on their election success this week. Tuesday marked the close of a particularly difficult and contentious election campaign, and the elections followed four years of partisan deadlock. However, most post-election analyses say that voters want meaningful solutions, not political rhetoric, to address our economic and energy challenges.
The best tool that must be given a high priority is a comprehensive national policy that will rapidly increase energy efficiency, accelerate the production of renewable energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new economic development.
Some 92 percent of our nation's energy comes from costly and limited resources. And much of that comes in the form of crude oil from unstable governments that continue to have too much influence on global oil production and trade, leading to fluctuating supplies and prices. A long-term, stable and wide-ranging energy policy that diversifies the source of our energy, particularly through the support of domestic production, is critical to the economic stability of our nation.
Furthermore, any national energy strategy should create markets for renewable energy that value the role of agriculture and forestry in producing clean energy.
There are near-term priorities that stakeholders believe will be dealt with in the lame-duck congressional session expected to begin later this month, including adopting a five-year farm bill that includes an energy title that ensures the sustainable contributions that agriculture and rural areas can make to our national energy supply. A new farm bill must also have a strong research element that accelerates the development of innovative, sustainable energy technologies.
Members of the 112th Congress are also expected to use their remaining time this year to extend a wide package of business tax credits that have expired (biodiesel Production Tax Credits, or PTCs, for example), or are set to expire at the end of this year (the wind energy PTC) or in 2013 (a variety of PTCs that benefit other renewable energy technologies).
The 25x'25 Alliance recognizes serious fiscal challenges facing the nation. However, lawmakers should remember that renewable energy development is proving to be a creator of jobs and other economic benefits, particularly in rural areas. According to a University of Tennessee report issued late last year, working to achieve the 25x'25 vision – 25 percent of our energy needs can be met by our farms ranches and forestlands by 2015 – would have a hugely favorable economic impact on rural America and the nation as a whole. Including multiplier effects through the economy, the projected annual impact on the nation from producing renewable energy would grow to more than $640 billion in economic activity and eventually create 4.7 million jobs, most of those in rural areas.
The 25x'25 Alliance remains committed to working with all policy makers in forging consensus on a long term, comprehensive action plan for securing a clean and sustainable energy future for America. Lawmakers and all stakeholders can renew that commitment now.