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Economic and dam related articles

Look to Local Leaders, Not the Feds,
on Those 'Green' Issues

by George Erb, Editor
Puget Sound Business Journal, May 1, 2006

When it comes to energy issues, the button-down set appears to be warming up to "green" solutions.

A new survey of Puget Sound executives reminds us, yet again, how local civic and business leaders are embracing renewable energy in the absence of meaningful federal leadership on the issue.

Hebert Research last month interviewed 196 executives and asked them, among other things, about their companies' interest in either renewable energy or energy-efficiency programs.

Thirty-seven percent of the executives said they were "highly interested," while nearly 40 percent said they were "somewhat interested." Overall, about 77 percent of these executives expressed interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Not so long ago, we would have expected to find that level of support for green-energy programs only among Washington state's college students.

Green energy initiatives are no doubt getting some political tailwind from the growing concern over global warming.

But the real power source for the green energy movement is the rising price of fuel. Hybrid vehicles tend to look more promising after spending $40 or more filling up the family car.

It comes as no surprise, then, that we are seeing a variety of green-energy initiatives on the state and local levels.

State legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire are trying to spur the development of a biodiesel industry, and the private sector is responding with various startups.

In the Tri-Cities, Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are building a $24 million biomass lab that will turn farm waste into useable products, including biofuel.

Earlier this year, a group of Washington investors launched the Northwest Energy Angel Group, which will provide valuable capital for emerging clean-energy companies.

After initially resisting, the state's public utility districts endorsed a signature-gathering campaign that would put a renewable-energy initiative on the November ballot. We could go on.

In the face of so much activity by local government and business, the real wonder is why the federal government appears to be taking a back seat on so many green-energy programs.

Earlier this week, President Bush unveiled his plan for easing energy prices. But his short-term cures were neither bold nor promising for providing short-term relief.

So we applaud the leadership on green energy issues that's coming from local business and government officials. On energy policy, the federal government is running out of gas.

George Erb
, Editor
Look to Local Leaders, Not the Feds, on Those 'Green' Issues
Puget Sound Business Journal, May 1, 2006

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