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Alternative energy: State can help lead the way
WITH another Independence Day behind us, there's plenty of talk about independence of another sort — from fossil fuels. It's folly, really; a government report issued last month says the world will remain overly dependent on oil, natural gas and coal in 2030. Sadly, "energy independence” rings as hollow in 2008 as it did when the phrase was floated in this country following the Arab embargos three decades ago.
But that doesn't mean the United States — and particularly Oklahoma — can't strive to make alternative fuels more of the future energy mix. That's why a plot of ground in the Oklahoma Panhandle deserves attention.
In Texas County, the Noble Foundation planted a 1,000-acre test plot of switchgrass that could be cultivated and converted into what is known as "cellulosic” ethanol. The Ardmore-based foundation also has a much smaller test plot, near Maysville in south-central Oklahoma.
Granted, it's a small start, a simple dot on the complex energy landscape. But the foundation's research during the past six decades is world class, and there's little doubt that what it does with switchgrass will be the same.
Hopefully, what will happen here will spark new alliances, too. The biofuels initiative headed at the state level by Energy Secretary David Fleischaker is taking the lead, as well it should. Hopefully, millions of dollars appropriated by the state Legislature over the past year for a biofuels center will attract attention — and more dollars — from outside the state.
As much as any other state of our size, Oklahoma knows energy. We have generations of expertise in fossil fuels, for sure, but also the know-how in the increasingly important world of alternative fuels. We can help lead the way, to ultimately provide this country and the world supplements to energy demand.
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