25X’25 Initiative Pushes Nation to Set Standards, Goals for Renewable Energy Use

On Tuesday, February 27, Brent Bailey, Southeast coordinator for the 25X’25 Action Plan, announced plans to present Congress with specific recommendations for reaching an ambitious renewable energy goal to supply 25 percent of the nation’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025. The plan was developed and is supported by a broad alliance of more than 400 agricultural, energy, business, labor and environmental groups.

Achieving the 25 percent renewable energy sources goal by 2025 is truly ambitious; however, I believe that as a community, we can and should play a part in achieving that objective.

The nation stands to gain numerous benefits by aggressively pursuing renewable energy sources. Participants in the 25X’25 initiative estimate that a 25 percent reduction in petroleum-based energy sources will generate $700 billion in new annual economic activity and increase farm income by $180 billion. They also believe it will lead to the creation of four to five million new jobs, reduce oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels per day and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one billion tons.

To reach a 25 percent reduction in petroleum, every region of the country will need to play its part. For example, Arizona, and other areas of the Southwest can contribute by harnessing solar power. The same is true for those places that are using wind power. In Iowa, we may see even more production of ethanol from corn.

In Memphis, our opportunities lie in the development of cellulostic-based energy production made from switchgrass, timber, other non-food crops and crop waste such as the stalks and stems that remain after a harvest.

We have the agricultural expertise, fertile land, and a mild climate that allows us to grow a wide variety of plants to meet a multitude of biomass needs. We also have a well-organized biomedical sector that offers access to trained workers and qualified researchers who understand chemistry, genetics and biological processes. Even just as importantly, we already have the logistics infrastructure in place to transport crops and convert them into energy for use here and elsewhere in the country.

By approaching Congress to set renewable energy production goals, the 25X’25 Action Plan is helping the nation set energy standards that will have significant benefits for the economy, the environment, and national security. It is up to us to develop a strategic plan that benefits our region and our nation as we work to achieve those goals.


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