BAXTER - Rep. John Ward on Tuesday brought a message of support for the clean energy jobs bill being considered by the U.S. Senate to Baxter.
Ward, speaking at Silent Power, a renewable energy business in Baxter, said the bill will reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and protect the environment.
"We live in probably the most envious natural environment in the nation if not the world, in my opinion," Ward said. "Ever since I've been in the Legislature, I've tried to work for conservation and environmental issues, to take care of the environment and pass it onto next generation to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us."
Ward, citing statistics from the Center for American Progress, said the bill would create 1.7 million jobs in the country, with about 31,000 in the U.S.
He also equated the criticism of the bill to the criticism of the Clean Air Act passed 18 years ago; that it would rates utility rates and eliminate jobs.
"It didn't hold true then and I don't think it will hold true now."
Along with Ward, a group of renewable energy, government and academic representatives gave short presentations on how the bill, and renewable energy in general, could improve America.
Carol Anderson, Community Development of Morrison County, while not endorsing the bill, talked about things her county has been doing in the field of renewable energy, including the ethanol plant, research projects on energy consumption and the consideration of methane digesters as a way to use waste products for energy.
"My firm belief is ethanol, methane digesters, wind, solar, in and of themselves are not the answer to the energy problem," Anderson said. "There is no one magic bullet. All of them combined is the answer."
Craig Nathan, Region Five Development Commission and Central Minnesota Alternative Energy Collaborative, noted his group's efforts in seeking alternative energy collaborations, applying for grants, conducting energy audits and promoting alternative energy possibilities.
Nathan said alternative energy jobs will bring higher paying jobs to rural Minnesota. He also said he didn't endorse the bill, but said the language within was a natural marriage to what his group was doing.
Bob McLean, of Hunt Utilities Group, described himself as a fiscal conservative in favor of what makes sense, dollars and cents, in order to pursue a particular project. That's was the reason he supported renewable energy projects.
"There's a tremendous amount of job opportunities that exist if we are innovative," McLean said.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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