Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alternative Energy Suggestions from Democratic Candidates in Senate race

There are three major Democratic candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander in November. Aside from the positions they might hold on LGBT issues, I am always interested hearing candidates' ideas for alternative energy resources. Before I entered social work and mental heath as a profession, I worked for the oil and gas industry in Texas and New Mexico for a year with degrees in geology. One of the reasons I left the industry is that I really did not want to be part of a corporation that wasn't addressing our nation's need to convert to greener energy resources.

In today's Commercial Appeal, at least two the Democratic candidates for Senate have some interesting ideas for alternative energies in West Tennessee:

[Mike] Padgett said Memphis "has a great workforce and the platform I stand on is bringing jobs there. We don't need to bring windmills to Memphis but we need to bring windmill manufacturers -- and manufacturing jobs for solar power.

"I think this new biological strand of highly cellulosic sugar cane -- once that develops as a renewable source of energy -- I think that's going to be the next cotton crop for the region around Memphis."

[Bob] Tuke said the city can build itself as alternative energy manufacturing center, using Sharp's Memphis plant and its production of photovoltaic cells for the solar power industry as a model. "One thing we're going to do for sure is focus attention and tax credits on solar and wind energy. With Sharp already having a major role in solar energy, that can be a big focus for Memphis.

"The other thing I think we need to focus on for Memphis is the now-commercialized cellulosic ethanol production." He said land in West Tennessee that is marginal for other farming is ideal for switchgrass and black cottonwood trees in ethanol production. "And a refinery can be built east of Memphis that will benefit from that and be a boon to the city, especially with the river and pipelines and the potential for shipping ethanol.

I really think that growing high-yield energy producing crops like corn and switchgrass on agricultural land that could be used to grow food is short-sighted. Ultimately we use more energy just to harvest and produce such crops. I do like the idea of embracing more solar and wind power. Democrats and Republicans also need to get on board with building more nuclear power plants in our country. Nuclear power is not renewable, but it certainly leaves the air a lot cleaner than fossil fuels. Nuclear technology is safer than it used to be. We just need to convince Nevadans that they will just have to bite the bullet and store the nuclear waste that results from power production at the long-studied Yucca Mountain facility.

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