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Friday, August 21, 2009

Oil in Elk Point or Wind in Howard: Pick Your Energy Future

Bob Ellis probably wants these environmentalist extremists in Howard to "take a hike", too:

Most of the talk about green job development has focused on urban areas, especially depressed, inner cities. But yesterday the conversation turned towards Rural America, and what’s already been accomplished there.

The conversation was initiated by Repower America, who held a press conference in Howard, SD to show their support for The American Clean Energy and Security Act. The organization believes the legislation could help bring 5,000 new jobs to South Dakota.

Because it is home to two wind energy companies, Howard (pop. 1071) was the perfect community to showcase this potential. Those two companies, Knight & Carver Wind Group and Energy Maintenance Service, offer good paying jobs that have helped diversify the town’s economy [Mike Knutson, "Green Jobs in Rural America," Reimagine Rural, 2009.08.21].

Conservatives like Bob Ellis cheer the potential construction of an oil refinery that will pollute the air, water, and land around Elk Point. I'm glad that Ellis can enjoy a little state affirmation of his worldview this morning, but that doesn't free us from the tarpit old-energy thinking that will only perpetuate our addiction to a dwindling resource.

Fortunately, some rural visionaries are looking for ways to change how we produce and use energy in hopes of creating real energy independence. The folks in Howard have been able to draw two energy businesses to town that have made actual progress toward producing domestic energy and jobs without big environmental impacts. Asking such visionaries to "take a hike" is the epitome of short-sightedness.

p.s.: Have you noticed how the KELO graphic of the proposed Hyperion refinery is all smoky and brown? Think about it. (I wonder if Perry Groten chose that image....)

pp.s.: Another Hyperion, Hyperion Power Generation, and some other companies are looking at a possibly greener energy solution that oil refineries: micro-nukes! Hmm... would small nuclear reactors give us greener power... or just a nice green glow?

ppp.s.: Hat tip to eager reader Tony Amert: If we really want to break oil addiction, maybe we could fire up some nuclear reactors next to the ocean and make jet fuel out of seawater.

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