The continued need for the U.S. to lessen its dependence on oil was the focus of the 25x’25 Renewable Energy Summit held this week in Washington, D.C.
The meeting featured several dynamic speakers focusing on the national security implications of our petroleum-based society.
Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn described the Pentagon’s aggressive efforts to incorporate renewable energy, including the Navy’s goal of having 50 percent of liquid fuel needs from renewables by 2020. These efforts not only create a demand for different and more renewable fuels, but also help spur innovation.
Jim Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, also made a very strong push for developing biofuels based on national security interests. He reiterated a frequently-cited concern of those interested in national security matters, that many of the dollars Americans spend on petroleum-based gas are used on activities that promote the roots of terrorism.
Even Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who delivered a passionate speech about the need to develop renewable fuels, touched on national security, describing the danger USDA workers face in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NAWG Second Vice President Erik Younggren, NAWG’s officer liaison to 25x’25 and other renewable energy and sustainability groups, attended the conference and sat on one of the panels covering the issue of carbon markets.
Bookended by discussions of the academic and policy implications of carbon markets and greenhouse gas regulation, Younggren provided the grower perspective, telling the audience that, “To me as a producer, a lot of the theory sounds good…[b]ut my checkbook is real, and that is what will guide my practices.”
Though his perspective offered more questions than answers, several subsequent speakers referenced his comments and the need to create certainty for producers.
NAWG Director of Government Affairs for Environmental Policy Mark Gaede and NAWG CEO Dana Peterson also attended parts of the conference.
NAWG is a member of the 25x’25 group, a large coalition of organizations that support the goal of getting 25 percent of America’s energy from renewable sources by the year 2025. More about the coalition’s work is available at http://www.25×25.org.