KRC Energy Policy Guideline
The Kansas Rural Center recognizes the problems associated with continued reliance on fossil fuels, including future cost increases due to depletion of petrochemicals, and also environmental deterioration due to global warming and pollution. The most efficient use of energy must be the first consideration in energy policy. Energy needs should be increasingly met through reliance on renewable resources, firmly taking into account the ecosystem expenses necessary for their generation.
Development of renewable energy should be undertaken in a manner that truly bolsters regional economies, maintains unique ecosystems, and avoids marring scenic viewsheds, critical habitat, or undisturbed areas. KRC encourages research and development of renewables prioritized as follows:
1. Energy conservation remains the lowest cost method of insuring an adequate energy supply. Farmers and society at large should pursue economic choices and production models that conserve energy.
2. Development of community owned wind projects (versus externally owned commodity wind), should be a top priority. Public policy should encourage siting in cultivated or disturbed agricultural landscapes rather than in native prairies. Sites which despoil unique ecosystems or damage wildlife should be avoided. Public policies should be enacted which encourage local ownership and regional marketing and use of wind energy.
3. Community owned solar energy projects should be developed, taking the same landscape and ecosystem goals into account.
4. The ecosystem limits to biomass production, especially the risk of soil mining, must be closely monitored. But if best management practices are observed, and harvest is limited so as not to exceed the amounts of carbon fixed through the interaction of solar energy and carbon accumulators, biomass crops, such as switchgrass, offer a viable source of energy.
5. KRC remains concerned about grain-based ethanol and biodiesel, primarily because of the great need for fossil fuel in their production and the enormous acreages of cropland to be converted from food production to energy production, with only marginal impact on our nation’s fuel supply. Studies have consistently indicated, at best, only marginal Energy Profit Ratios when fossil fuel is used to manufacture these products. KRC also questions whether the grain needed would exist with the discontinuance of large governmental subsidies promoting commodity production. Cellulose based ethanol appears more feasible, but still entails the use of fossil fuel, and risks the mining of soil nutrients. KRC is concerned about the high risk ethanol and biodiesel plants pose to farmer investors.
(Approved May 2, 2006 – Executive Board meeting)