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Coalition asks Congress to make clean, renewable energy part of recovery plan

Change should help to create jobs and build America's clean energy economy

Experts from 25x'25, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the Environmental Law and Policy Center Jan. 12 pushed Congress to support economic recovery investments in USDA renewable energy programs, as well as renewable energy bonds and tax credits to revive the economy and help America's farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

Investing in agriculture-based clean energy development will diversify the nation's energy supply, create jobs, and revitalize America's rural economy, according to a proposal signed by more than 30 business, agriculture, energy and environmental groups. The groups are asking Congress to provide strong funding for the construction and development of advanced biofuel refineries, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy projects, energy efficiency, biomass research, and the development of next generation feedstocks. These programs could help create and maintain thousands of jobs in the clean energy technology fields.

"While frequently among the first programs to be cut in tough economic times, investments in USDA energy programs are critical to launching thousands of new jobs in our rural communities. Investing in sustainable next-generation biofuels, renewable energy, and energy efficiency will recharge America's rural economy and restore the environment," said Julie Sibbing, Director of Global Warming and Agriculture, National Wildlife Federation.

"With sufficient funding, this agenda will jump-start stalled clean energy projects and jobs around the country," said Andy Olsen, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate. "This plan will improve our environment and increase energy independence."

"Our nation's agriculture and forestry industries can not only provide a good portion of our overall energy supply, but also a new green energy future that will stimulate and reinvigorate our economy," said Bart Ruth, chairman of the 25x'25 policy committee. "A small investment in rural America and clean, green energy development has the potential to provide a new economic foundation for the entire country."

"Wheat growers are excited about the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and the use of wheat straw as a feedstock," said Mark Gaede, director of government affairs for environmental policy at the National Association of Wheat Growers. "This technology has the potential to help our farmers diversify and strengthen their operations while helping the U.S. become more energy independent while helping the environment."

The coalition's proposals are listed in this letter at http://elpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/renewable-energy-stimulus-letter.pdf.

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