Leading from the Left

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Addiction? What addiction?

Last year, in his State of the Union address, President Bush raised our hopes by a) admitting that the US was adicted to oil and b) promising to break that addiction. His remarks seemed to be bold leadership from an administration with extremely close ties to the petroleum industry. But what has he done since then? Not much.

If it isn't going to come from Washington, then bold leadership needs to come from the state and local level. And there are some excellent initiatives underway to around the country, and here in North Carolina, to reduce our dependency on oil.

For example, in Robeson County plans have been approved by the county commissioners to build an ethanol plant using methane gas from the local landfill. This is exactly the kind of bold thinking we need if we're going to address climate change, reduce dependency on oil, and increase the use of renewables.

The county government will benefit in several key ways: a) Robeson County will recieve royalty payments of at least $250,000 per year, b) they will retain ownership of the carbon credits created by the capturing of the landfill methane, credits that can be sold, and c) the plant will hire 15 employees.

So, the county will be making money from the capture and reuse of methane gas from their landfill, a resource that otherwise would simply be released into the atmosphere thus contributing to global warming.

This is a win-win for everyone.

Deep in the heart of Texas, in oil country, a similar ethanol project in now underway. This time, the ethanol plant will run on animal waste. Yep, that's right. Cow poop, from the ranches nearby, will be turned into energy and used to run the ethanol plant. One nearby ranch produces a reported 675 million lbs of manure per year.

It occurs to me that NC is the nation's 2nd largest producer of pork. There's a whole lot of hog manure sitting in lagoons in Eastern North Carolina. What we need here is some bold thinking. There is no good reason that hog manure should continue to sit in huge lagoons, potentially polluting our water supply, when it could be converted to energy. Why isn't NC moving faster to acheive energy independence?