Alternative energy can move state forward

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The United States, and in turn Alabama, has grown more dependent on an energy source that comes disproportionately from an area of the world that is unstable and highly volatile.

We must embrace alternative energy sources and wean ourselves off of foreign oil dependency.

By establishing a more diverse use of fuel consumption we create a more independent American consumer and a stronger economy.

Some of the most common products used to produce alternative sources of energy are found right here in Alabama.

Agricultural products such as corn, soybean oil, palm oil, peanut oil, grain, switch grass and vegetable oil can be used to make renewable fuels.

The two most common types of renewable fuels are ethanol and biodiesel.

In addition to reducing our dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela, both of these fuels are cleaner and less toxic than traditional gasoline.

Biodiesel is clean burning and is proven to reduce greenhouse gas build up in the atmosphere.

The long term environmental benefits of biodiesel are also clear when you look a study completed in 1999 by the University of California showing pure bio-diesel emissions reduce cancer risks by over 94 percent.

By investing in bio-technology we can strengthen the renewable fuel industry based right here in Alabama. With agriculture still the most dominant industry in our state biodiesel has the potential to galvanize the rural economy of Alabama and open up new markets for our home grown products.

The United States currently borrows more than $200 million a year from foreign countries to pay for imported oil.

Imagine if we could replace that money with an investment back into our economy in the form of renewable fuels produced at home instead of oil pumped abroad.

Quite simply biodiesel makes good sense for the consumers and economy of Alabama.

Alabama is a national leader in biofuels research and development and we are quickly becoming a leader in biofuels production.

State government must remove the barriers that can hinder the research and development of these new renewable fuels.

Our state leaders can foster a positive atmosphere for growth by offering incentives to companies investing in the production and distribution of renewable fuels.

You can help too.

Start asking your refueling station for biodiesel for your diesel engines.

Biodiesel can run in any diesel engine.

Or consider purchasing a flex fuel vehicle which can run on ethanol in addition to gasoline.

Too often government is a road block to progress as opposed to a facilitator.

Alternative energy can move our state forward in ways it has never progressed before.

The legislature needs to act now in providing the necessary tax incentives to secure the tremendous investments already made and to further the progress, thus insuring Alabama&8217;s role as a national leader.

State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) serves House District 49