Iowa Sets Its Sights on Renewable Energy Dominance

Newspapers around the state of Iowa on Sunday were reporting on or editorializing about governor-elect Chet Culver's proposed Iowa Power Fund, a $100 million investment by the state in renewable energy development. Culver proposed the Fund during his campaign, and made it one of the pillars of his economic development plan. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are considering Culver's proposal, but support for renewables seems solid across the board. According to the Sioux City Journal,

Sen. Thurman Gaskill, R-Corwith, said he doesn't know enough about Culver's proposal to say whether he supports it.

But he's in favor of efforts to preserve Iowa's role in the renewable fuel industry. "I think it's something that at this point could revitalize rural America," he said.

While some leaders are pushing renewable fuels, others want to put the brakes on the development of new coal-fired power plants.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, an Iowa City Democrat, said the state needs to urge energy efficiency and reduce the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.

"Global climate disruption is real. Global climate disruption will have a negative impact on Iowa and its economy," Bolkcom said.

The Des Moines Register supports the governor's proposal, as well as increasing funding for energy-related university research, and broadening efforts beyond corn-based ethanol: "...grain-based ethanol is the Model T of renewable fuel — a great beginning but not the ultimate product. Resources should be focused on what comes next." While California's received a lot of attention for recent efforts to boost renewables and confront climate change, it looks like we'll also have to keep an eye on the Hawkeye State. The incoming governor, and members of the legislature from both parties, clearly recognize the "win-win" potential of a renewable energy economy. ::Sioux City Journal and Des Moines Register

Tags: Energy | Ethanol | Wind Power