Aug 292007
Authors: Nick Hemenway

As the political scene intensifies in the dawn of the 2008 election, we tend to see the same issues pop up in public discussion. One of those issues is the use and pursuit of alternative forms of energy.

I recently had the honor of sitting down with Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave to talk about this rapidly developing field.

One thing everyone can agree on is that we need to find renewable energy sources to secure the future of our country.

There are many reasons to pursue different forms of renewable energy, such as lessening our dependence on foreign oil, environmental concerns, oil price manipulation, but most importantly, Musgrave says, is national security.

In order for the United States to remain stable in the future, we must be able to control our basic needs, no matter what is happening elsewhere in the world.

So the question is where do we start?

With its abundant and accessible resources, Colorado is poised to be a leader in renewable energy development.

One of the biggest resources we have to offer is wind. With huge wind farms being constructed along the Front Range, Colorado is staking its claim in the evolving field of energy.

“We can take this cursed wind and turn it into energy,” Musgrave said. “There are companies that are figuring out how to get this alternative energy on the grid.”

But wind isn’t the only option. Many agricultural products such as corn are being developed into usable energy such as E85, which is becoming more viable as automakers are redesigning vehicles to accommodate it.

Musgrave explains “If we can take agriculture’s role from providing food and fiber to fuel for this nation, it will be a very bright future for agriculture and communities around the nation that depend on agriculture for their economy.”

Critics of E85 and other corn-based energy forms argue that putting these basic products in such high demand will drive up food costs all around.

“We’ll see some increase in the price of our food,” says Musgrave. “But when you go from a fossil-based system to a renewable system, there will be some increased costs.”

Musgrave then discussed how her job as a policy maker is to determine the correct role of the government in alternative energy. The use of tax dollars must be carefully established.

Lawmakers must decide if the right path is creating tax credits for companies involved in research and development of renewable energy, or if another form of incentives is appropriate. She explains that the government must step in where the private sector doesn’t, which happens when companies cannot realize a profit in a short period of time.

However, our country’s transformation into renewable energy will not take place over night. Since major change is years away, Musgrave stressed the importance of the steps we can take right now to lower our energy costs. For example, we can learn to use our energy more efficiently. About 40% of the energy we use goes to heating, cooling and lighting our homes. Through the use of technology, huge amounts of energy can be conserved.

Before my time with the Congresswoman ended, I had to ask her the most important question of the day-what is her prediction for this weekend’s Rocky Mountain Showdown? Fortunately, being a Ram herself, Musgrave predicted a 21-13 CSU victory. Let’s not disappoint the Congresswoman.

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