Renewable Energy Investment Will Pay Off

By Bob Dinneen | April 14, 2009
Recently, a chorus has been growing in Washington questioning whether the nation can afford the broad economic recovery strategy the Obama Administration is pursuing. Is it prudent to try to address both the collapse in the banking industry and our nation's dependence on fossil fuels at the same time? Should we be investing in new technologies when millions of Americans are losing their jobs?

The unequivocal answer to these questions is yes.

Our economic woes are directly linked to our dependence on imported oil and the hemorrhaging of U.S. dollars to OPEC. Unless and until we gain control of our energy destiny, we will never have control of our economic future.

President Barack Obama and members of Congress were absolutely right in focusing on the establishment of a green economy for immediate, intermediate and long-term economic opportunity. The investment in developing and deploying renewable energy technologies will create jobs immediately through the construction of new facilities while providing the long-term job growth that only evolving technologies can offer.

Take ethanol as the example. Just since the establishment of the nation's first renewable fuels standard in 2005, American ethanol production has helped support or create nearly 350,000 additional jobs throughout the entire economy. The anticipated job growth that will result from the implementation and success of the expanded RFS in 2007 will be on the order of 1 million jobs.

Some will argue that investing in renewable fuels and other renewable energy technologies is just a distraction from the real problem posed by the potential insolvency of many of the nation's largest banks. I would agree that fixing the banking system and unfreezing the credit markets are critical to the success of the economy and the nation's renewable fuels industry. However, those banks will need projects in which to invest, and providing federal support of the research, development, and deployment of next generation technologies is a critical step that must be taken.

The problems facing the country are too many and too great to take a rifle shot approach. We must be able to multitask as a nation if we want to revive the economy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and address the challenges of climate change. Investing in renewable fuel and energy projects today will provide dividends in the weeks, months and
years to come.

Bob Dinneen
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association