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Importing any kind of energy not the answer

DENVER-The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) Board of Directors, meeting in Denver this week, said President George Bush’s March 9 proposal to encourage Brazilian imports of bio-fuels is counter to the U.S. objectives for increasing the production of renewable fuels.

“While we are glad to see the president in the state of the union address pledge to increase usage of renewable fuels to 35 billion gallons by 2017, we do not support achieving this goal through imports,” said Kent Peppler, RMFU president and farmer from Mead, Colo. “Furthermore, we oppose Brazil being able to process sugarcane into ethanol in the Caribbean and bypass the 54 cents-per-gallon tariff. The Caribbean is exempt from tariffs on imports into the United States.”

The United States currently supplies 7 percent of its energy needs, or six billion gallons of its fuels, through renewable sources, including wind, solar, ethanol and bio-fuels. The Renewable Fuels Association has estimated that production of bio-fuels will hit 11 billion gallons by 2008.

The RMFU board notes that three primary objectives of developing domestic renewable energy capacity are: the reduction in dependence on foreign fuel sources; improving the environment; and economic development opportunities for America’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

“It does not make sense to rid ourselves from dependence of fuel from one country or region of the world, only to develop dependence on another country or region,” said Jan Kochis, RMFU board chair, and a farmer and rancher from Matheson, Colo. “In addition, RMFU adamantly opposes any production incentives being applied to ethanol or bio-fuels imported into the United States.”

Also troubling to the RMFU board is the potential damage to rural communities that are optimistic in their plans for development of ethanol and bio-fuels facilities to bolster their rural economies.

“Rural America is aggressively responding to the broad-based commitment and support to increase the production of renewable fuels,” said Kochis. “The last thing Americans expect is their commitment, support and tax dollars to be directed to increase imports of bio-fuels and ethanol we can produce domestically,”

“Renewable energy development is the bright spot in diversification of our rural economy. Many individuals and farmer-owned cooperatives continue to make investments in renewable energy, Peppler said. “Our countries’ leaders should not be allowed to pull the rug out from under them.”

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization representing 25,000 families in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.