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Opinion: Hog manure project a lesson in clean energy

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Last week, the Energy and Commerce Committee hosted an Energy and Environment Innovation Showcase in Washington, D.C. Its purpose was to highlight companies and organizations from across the United States that are using innovative technologies to address climate change and strengthen our energy security.

It showcased how supporting research and technologically driven policy can achieve significant results in addressing climate change. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, I recognize the importance of providing reliable, yet affordable, energy sources that are not detrimental to the environment — a view shared by both Democrats and Republicans. We will continue to work together to develop pragmatic solutions and realistic goals, which is a balance that was highlighted in the showcase.

As a member of the subcommittee, I was asked to invite a business or organization that uses innovative approaches to energy consumption and conservation. I invited Missouri-based Roeslein Alternative Energy. Roeslein partnered with Smithfield Foods to produce renewable natural gas from hog manure.

Concentrated animal feeding operations, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an intensive animal feeding operation wherein over 1,000 animals are confined for over 45 days a year, can be controversial because of the large amounts of waste produced and the odor associated with raising these animals. Roeslein’s renewable natural gas production system successfully converts animal waste into clean energy, addressing the problems associated with CAFOs while moving toward more environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources.

What’s even more impressive about their clean energy initiative are the glowing ratings they’ve received for their process. Roeslein recently received the lowest carbon intensity score ever recorded by the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which is not an easy task. CI scores are measured by the direct levels of greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing, transporting and using an energy source.

While reports suggest Missouri has room to improve its clean energy efforts, clean energy supports over 55,000 jobs across the state, boasting a growth rate faster than its overall job growth. As a result, clean energy jobs now represent 2% of all jobs in Missouri. These figures show how our state is moving toward a cleaner energy portfolio without radical and restrictive legislation like the Green New Deal. With more companies across the state taking concrete steps to use renewable energy alternatives, passing legislation that forces businesses to do something they’re already pursuing voluntarily is not only unnecessary but also could derail progress.

Policies like the Green New Deal would dramatically increase our national debt, while offering no realistic pathways toward increasing the availability of clean energy. The notion that our nation could immediately eliminate fossil fuels, nuclear power and the vast majority of modern transportation options is unrealistic at best.

Rather than legislate based on knee-jerk reactions, we need to recognize the value of taking a realistic businesslike approach to tackling climate change, and this event highlighted the success companies across the country are having in addressing climate change, including right here in the Show-Me State.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Missouri, can be reached at (202) 909-3744. His Twitter handle is @USRepLong.

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