Tuesday, October 7, 2008

South Dakota Energy Potential

South Dakota is poised to become a leader in energy development, both renewable and fossil fuel based. We can all appreciate the imperative task of reducing fossil fuel consumption and at the same time realize we cannot make the leap to zero in one attempt.

Looking ahead optimistically, Tom Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, stated, “South Dakota has tremendous opportunity to create clean energy on its farms and ranchers that is good for the environment.” These types of opportunities will help create financial incentive for our farmers, in lieu of conversion of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land into crop production.

South Dakota has already lost 300,000 acres of CRP last year, with the possibility of a few hundred thousand more in coming years. This is important because South Dakota’s Pheasant hunting industry, which relies heavily on CRP land, generated $219 million last year. Also to note from the article, a study by the University of Minnesota and the Nature Conservancy concluded that converting CRP to crop production increases carbon dioxide emissions.

These issues are often complicated, yet we must keep our eyes on the future of what is best for our state, our families, and our communities. In implementing policies and ideas, we must ensure they are both sustainable in their approach and economically beneficial for South Dakota. And that means we must have a sustainable plan for the future; one that balances the social fabric, economy and environment – strategically.

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