Can we produce clean biofuels on working farmland in a sustainable manner? RIM-Clean Energy shows real potential for making just such a scenario possible. A simple way to describe this program is that it would support farmers who grow native perennials such as prairie grass for bioenergy. But there’s much more below the surface. Such a program could serve as the seed for a “multiple benefits” agricultural system: besides cheap feed for livestock, these native perennials can protect soil and water while producing wildlife habitat and sequestering carbon. And by the way, they could be the basis for a cellulosic biofuels revolution here in Minnesota. RIM-Clean Energy was authorized by the Minnesota Legislature last session, but now comes the hard part: priming the financial pump. Funding for RIM-Clean Energy is already starting to make its way through the 2008 Legislature. Let’s hope lawmakers see what an economic, agronomic and environmental payoff such an initiative could provide decades down the line.
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