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Lets think ahead on energy

Fri, Jan 14th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

Did you know that every year $12.6 billion (yes, billion) leaves Minnesota to import coal, petroleum, natural gas and uranium in order to support our energy needs? This purchase costs each Minnesotan almost $2,500 every year. This message was delivered at a gathering in Rochester by Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists (U.C.S.).

He believes that much of this money could be used in other helpful and productive ways. Knobloch believes the answer is in embracing renewable energy opportunities. Minnesota is the 9th windiest state and has the potential to generate more than 13 times its current electricity needs from renewable energy. To prepare for the future we need to embrace the non-ending wind and sun resources. Renewable energy would sponsor economic development (jobs), thereby helping states recapture a large part of the money now sent out of state and out of country.

One of the biggest tasks ahead is to rebuild our outdated and inefficient energy grid. Then just imagine the number of jobs that manufacturing, constructing and maintaining wind turbines and solar panels would create. Note that most of these jobs can not be out-sourced.

To turn our current situation around we need pro-active policies, strong and unyielding leadership and to hold our political candidates responsible. We need to continue to ask people in power what they are doing to make renewable energy happen. We need to support coalitions between labor and the environment and continue to point out that renewable energy is a win-win situation. We can build alliances and embrace new technologies. We can work to understand each others perspectives. By reducing our energy costs we can use our money for education and health care. By thinking ahead we can create good jobs that will not compromise our air, land and water.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to write a book about logging in the early 1900s. What sticks in my mind is how dramatically things changed in such a relatively short period of time. For example, three logging camp cooks fed hundreds of hungry men four meals a day without electricity or any of our modern day conveniences. These men worked hard and ate a lot and all the food was all prepared from scratch. I believe that future generations will look back at our oil-based economy and wonder what took us so long to make the changes necessary to live more responsibly.

For more information on renewable resource opportunities check out the Union of Concerned Scientists website www.ucsusa.org. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development, and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions.

Mary Bell, who is involved in energy issues, lives in Lanesboro.

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