The New York Times reports, “President Bush on Monday visited a small plant that turns soybeans into a clean-burning form of diesel fuel.” The visit was designed to cast the president “as deeply interested in backing new, environmentally friendly technologies that would eventually increase energy supplies.”
The event made for good pictures — but that’s about it. Earlier, Reuters reported that the assistant secretary of energy told Congress that Bush “plans to oppose efforts to include a national renewable energy requirement for utilities” in the energy bill. The requirements are key to serious renewable energy development — without forcing companies to use alternative energy sources, there will be no real way to guarantee that America starts getting more of its energy from renewable sources.
In Montana, the need for a mandate was recognized by lawmakers working on the same issue. Here, the legislature recently passed a bill forcing the state’s energy companies to derive a certain percentage of its energy from alternative sources. This not only broadens Montana’s energy base, but also will help spur the rural economy because it is expected to immediately create an agricultural market for ethanol development. The oil and gas industry (which has underwritten Bush’s campaigns for years) doesn’t like these kinds of mandates — but they are necessary if people are serious about reducing America’s dependence on oil.