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Editorial: Renewables offer multiple opportunities

A new report issued recently by The Pew Charitable Trusts states that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is "accelerating clean energy innovations in an effort to reduce risks to America's military, enhance energy security and save money." The report adds that DoD investments in clean energy soared by 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion. That annual investment is expected to exceed $10 billion per year by 2030.

The DoD, the Pew report continues, is the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. and one of the biggest institutional energy users in the world. But, in the case of the U.S. as a whole, our nation continues to trail such countries as Spain, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom in terms of the percentage of its economy invested in clean energy.

In short, the U.S. can be seen as lagging in the worldwide clean energy race, and more needs to be done to improve its position. Pew is advocating development of various new energy policies that will increase the DoD's likelihood of meeting its goals. "Reduce risks to America's military," "enhance energy security," "save money" -- there's nothing wrong with any of those.

There's also no denying U.S. policies that increase the promotion of clean energy innovation would have strong ramifications economically. One has to look no further than southwest Minnesota for an example.

Luverne's Gevo plant is currently in the midst of a conversion that will allow production of isobutanol, an alcohol produced from corn. In fact, it will become the first commercial-scale isobutanol facility in the world.

The facility already has a sky's-the-limit future, but further encouragement of innovation can only help it and other biofuel opportunities in this region. That's a big win-win scenario -- a win for those who serve and protect our country, and a win for the economic health of our area communities.