Energy & Environment
There is a constant tug of war between the status quo energy complex, primarily big oil and big coal, and those concerned about the environment. Can we be a brave and forward looking enough country to realize the future is in renewables and clean energy?
Yes, we will still need oil and coal for the foreseeable future but can we finally embrace the abundant untapped and undeveloped alternative energy potential all around us? We have no other choice. We must act now to curb our dependency on fossil fuels and unlock a job creation boom by aggressively turning our nation’s focus to renewable energy projects.
If you start in eastern Iowa drive through Nebraska and to the western Colorado boarder a few stark differences are clear. One is the failed policies of Nebraska and the obvious need for new law encouraging and embracing Nebraska’s abundant untapped wind power potential. Iowa and Colorado are full of wind power projects which have and are creating new jobs daily – Nebraska is not.
Part of the reason is the failure of our elected officials to make any progress and lobbying interested tied to the old ways. Another reason are the tax credits associated with wind power projects. Only Nebraska and Alaska have 100% Public Power – tax credits on the federal level are for private companies engaged in wind energy development and production and we as a public power state has lost out. This will only change at the ballot box.
Nebraska also has ample opportunity for Solar Power projects. We must embrace and encourage this economic development.
Additionally, I support new opportunities in bio-based manufacturing, advanced biofuels, and renewable energy, and continuing programs that help create jobs while simultaneously reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Some of these programs found in the Agriculture Act of 2014 include:
- Rural Energy for America Program
The popular Rural Energy for America (REAP) program has helped nearly 4,000 farmers, ranchers and rural business owners lower their energy bills by installing renewable and energy efficient systems. The bill will provide a streamlined application process for farmers and rural businesses applying for small and medium sized projects.
- Advanced Bioenergy Production
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides support for farmers and ranchers who wish to plant energy crops to produce and use biomass crops for conversion to advanced biofuels or bioenergy. Agricultural producers in BCAP project areas may contract with the Department of Agriculture to receive biomass crop establishment payments up to 50 percent of costs, plus annual payments in subsequent years to help to compensate for lost opportunity costs until crops are established.
- Growing the Bio-Based Economy
The bill will reauthorize and modify USDA’s BioPreferred Program and the Federal Government Procurement Preference Program. Many of the modifications are adopted from the “Make it Here, Grow it Here” initiative which includes reporting of biobased purchases by the federal agencies and auditing and enforcement of the biobased label.
- Biorefinery Assistance Program
This program provides loan guarantees for renewable energy projects. Eligibility for the program has been expanded to include biobased manufacturing and renewable chemicals, which uses agricultural products to make value-added products.
- Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels
This program provides production payments for advanced bioenergy sources such as methane digesters, advanced biofuels and biopower.
For More Read: Dave’s May 2014 Overview of the Agriculture Act of 2014