Former USDA Undersecretary of Rural Development Tom Dorr says that renewable energy presents tremendous rural development opportunities. However; Dorr cites the E-10 blend wall, greenhouse gas emissions and indirect land use as issues that will need to be dealt with. In particular the misconceptions about indirect land use must be addressed.
"Some people are assuming that if you take an acre of corn and put it into ethanol you're going to automatically take an acre of rainforest or marginal ground someplace else and bring it into production, which is going to be an environmental detriment," Dorr says. "As farmers and rural Americans, we know that is not the case. So we are going to have to be very attentive to these underlying policy issues so that we can capture the opportunities we can create to essentially revitalize a lot of rural
There are 60 million people who live in rural
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Dorr says the important thing is to make sure that we build out this industry on a well designed, objective and scientific base so we can properly deal with those issues of greenhouse gas emissions and indirect land use.
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"If we can capture a fraction of that; a quarter or a third or even 50% of that; that could be $150 to $300 billion a year in the renewable energy area," Dorr says. "And renewable energy is generally all rural in origin, whether it's solar or wind or biobased, or waste energy recovery or geothermal whatever the case is. If we're smart and develop the kind of investment and the business and regulatory tools that we need to capture this value; a lot of that money can stay in rural areas."Dorr says that capturing as much of the value in new energy technology is going to require as much state level innovation as it will Federal. He says that we tend to overlook that and the regulatory systems at the state level have a big challenge to integrate and distribute electricity to the older systems without disruption, but still be able to build out these new systems.