Enough, already! From 25x’25 Co Chairs

By Bill Richards and J. Read Smith

U.S. energy policy is in free fall as partisan politics undermine bipartisan support for renewable energy. While we struggle with a weak economy, excessive unemployment and high fuel costs, Washington remains gridlocked in its efforts to create a brighter, more secure energy future.

Last week’s House funding debate epitomizes this stalemate. While approving a degree of disaster relief for Americans buffeted by natural disasters as part of their continuing resolution to fund the federal government beyond September, House members voted to offset disaster relief funding with deep cuts to DOE clean energy programs, a shortsighted move that could damage our economic recovery.

Both sides claim that jobs and job creation are essential to reinvigorating the U.S. economy. Yet their posturing threatens the government with another shutdown, and gamesmanship blinds them to the need for a long-term, stable energy policy to generate jobs and revitalize our economy.

The 25x’25 Alliance has released a University of Tennessee Bio-based Energy Analysis Group report which demonstrates how pursuing the 25x’25 vision – meeting 25 percent of our nation’s energy needs with renewable resources by 2025 – would create billions of dollars in economic activity and millions of new jobs.

According to 25% Renewable Energy for the United States by 2025: An Analysis on Jobs Created By Meeting the Goal, growing renewable energy feedstocks and harnessing the sun, wind, water, and heat from the earth to produce energy would generate an estimated $208 billion in new economic activity in 2015, creating 1.4 million new jobs in just four years. By 2020, its anticipated benefits are $411 billion in economic activity and 2.9 million jobs. When the nation reaches the goal in 2025, an estimated $646 billion in new economic activity leads to the creation of 4.7 million new jobs. The study shows that jobs would be created in every state, with rural areas especially benefiting from the development of renewable energy.

But in order for this to become a reality, lawmakers must back away from rhetoric – this is NOT a partisan issue ‑ and pass responsible policies that will return the United States to a position of leadership in the global economy.

Budget decisions, whether short- or long-term, must protect and strengthen funding for foundational programs – such as the Farm Bill energy title programs and DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs – that will allow our evolving renewable energy sector to reach full potential.\

There has never been greater need for public policy and funding to maximize the economic benefits of our nation’s vast sustainable resources. If elected officials and policy makers are serious about economic recovery and jobs, they must refrain from divisive sound bites and instead work together for a U.S. energy future that is economically secure and environmentally sound.


Bill Richards and J. Read Smith are co-chairs of the National 25x’25 Alliance. Richards, an Ohio corn and soybean producer, is a former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. Smith, a Washington State wheat, small grains and cattle producer, is a former president of the National Association of Conservation Districts.