|Brown: Retool ag for energy changes|
|Written by By WILL MALONE Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 14 August 2009 09:06|
PERRYSBURG - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown swung through the region Thursday to discuss how the state's agriculture industry will fit into new legislation that seeks to combat the effects of climate change by offering clean energy incentives and allowing the trade of emission reductions.
He noted that the Toledo area contained more solar jobs than any other region in the country and pointed to efforts in Cleveland, Marysville and Dayton - where those communities respectively are installing one of the world's first wind turbine fields near a fresh water shore and harnessing new technologies to convert algae into plastics as well as create materials lighter and stronger than fiberglass for a variety of applications.
The state is also known for its significant contribution to the U.S. auto industry. Proposed legislation will help auto suppliers transition into alternative energy manufacturing, he said.
"If you can make glass for trucks, you can make glass for solar panels," he said.
Historically, he said, agriculture has been one of the most innovative industries in the nation. While often regarded as conservative, he said, farmers often take the lead on new ideas and technologies "because they often understand what needs to be done" to produce more goods.
To assist the industry in efforts to use clean energy and reduce pollution, Brown said the United States Department of Agriculture has made broadband access a priority for rural areas where the cost to establish connectivity currently is prohibitive. Redressing this issue will become important, he said, as farmers are asked to find new environmentally-friendly ways to run their operations.
The House's climate change bill, also known as the cap-and-trade bill, affects farmers directly since they depend on a stable climate for reliable production of goods, said William Hohenstein, director of the USDA Global Change Program Office.
"Climate change is going to have an effect within the U.S.," Hohenstein said. "We're already committed to a certain amount of climate change over the next century, and the effects are going to be disproportionate around the country" with some farmers experiencing longer growing seasons and other likely seeing drier and hotter climates. He said, across the country, the industry will notice more extreme climate events as well as other uncertainties.
The agriculture industry contributes about 6 percent of greenhouse gases compared to about 80 percent from energy manufacturers within the United States, according to the USDA.
The climate bill encourages operations to reduce gas emissions by offering incentives and allowing the trade of those responsibilities and "makes it a level playing field," he said. The legislation seeks to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020.
However, he acknowledged that the bill includes some issues that complicate the bill's intent to reward responsible practices and to reduce emissions. For example, the House bill allows farmers who adopted clean practices as early as 2000 to take advantage retroactively of offset incentives but he said Congress will need to avoid only awarding new efforts to reduce emissions.
Monica Cordes, of Waterville, wanted to know whether the bill would pass increased costs - from company's which will end up paying more to reduce emissions - down to regular consumers.
Marsha Chestnutwood, a bus driver in the Anthony Wayne School District, said she worried about the effect increased fuel prices on taxpayers.
Hohenstein said fuel prices would increase modestly, less than the price reached during last year's volatile market, and that corn growers for example would be able to make a net profit from offset incentives.
"If we're going to reduce emissions, there are going to be costs associated with it," Hohenstein said. "I think the question is how do you structure that policy in as an efficient a way as possible," he said, adding that "the alternative is doing nothing."
Brown supports health reform
|Last Updated on Friday, 14 August 2009 10:26|
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