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Energy—Why Not Make it at Home?

By John Stencel

Ever remember shopping for something, only to have your mother declare, “That’s too expensive. I’ll make it myself,” and march her family out of the store? I believe we need to be taking a cue from good ole mom and doing the same when it comes to energy.

Fuel for automobiles hit an all-time high national average of $1.80 per gallon in early April, and prices are continuing to climb. The impact is already crippling our fossil-fuel dependent economy. Airlines are filling up seats, but still not making a profit. Farmers and ranchers are rethinking no-till cultivation and reducing pesticide and herbicide applications to reduce diesel consumption in their tractors.

Fuel prices already have been cited as one reason for rising food prices and reduced projections of income for tourism. The price of oil is possibly the single most important variable in U.S. economic health yet the one that is most beyond our control.

Nonetheless, the Colorado Legislature for a third year in a row, rejected a relatively modest but productive bill that would have mandated increased levels of renewable energy as a percentage of the energy used in Colorado to generate electricity. Alternative energy production has become increasingly efficient over the last several years, with experts projecting that it will be cheaper than coal and fossil fuels. In addition, energy development from wind and crops would be a tremendous economic opportunity for many rural communities. Yet, opponents found fault with the bill. Conservatives did not like the “mandate” aspect of the bill. Liberals were suspicious it would provide economic opportunity to the wrong people. So, they voted it down.

Kudos to Colorado House Speaker Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, who for the third year running, has sponsored this bill. Understanding the need for rural development and decreased dependence on foreign oil, Spradley has attached the primary components of her bill to a Senate bill sponsored by Terry Phillips, D-Louisville. As of press time, this bill was making its way through the Colorado Legislature but was not yet passed. We applaud the speaker’s efforts and urge her to continue fighting.

A renewable fuels standard that increases at a set minimum over a long period of time will encourage development of a renewable fuels industry. Without this long-term, extensive commitment, our consumption of renewable fuels will wane and wax with the rise and fall of grain and oil prices. Guaranteed stability also will encourage fuel retailers and engine manufacturers to expand and market engines that run best with renewable fuels.

Wouldn’t it be great the next time fuel prices go up to say: That’s too expensive. We’ll make it at home!