Austin residents lobby for emissions bill in D.C.

Published 7:10 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Several Austin residents traveled to Washington D.C. at the end of September to talk to national lawmakers about their local interests.

Dwight and Becky Ault, local family farmers, and Jim Stiles, owner of Super Fresh Produce and president of the Austin Izaak Walton League, were selected by The local Minnesota Environmental Partnership to show Congress members their support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

About 30 farmers, small business owners and renewable energy entrepreneurs, most of them from the Midwest, participated in the collaborative lobby day, sponsored by Clean Energy Works.

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Stiles and the Aults met with staff from the offices of Sen. Al Franken and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

The goal of the ACES bill is to address global warming and transform the way the nation uses and produces energy.

The bill includes a global warming reduction plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. Other provisions include studies and incentives regarding new carbon capture and sequestration technologies, new renewable requirements for utilities, energy efficiency incentives for homes and buildings, and grants for green jobs among other things.

In D.C., the trio attended a briefing on the status of the American Clean Energy Security Act as it relates to agriculture and rural issues.

The bill was passed by the House in June and a slightly different version of it was introduced in the Senate last week.

Stiles said he supports the bill because he believes that investing in renewable energy is good for small businesses, and that he wants to keep seeing grants and credits available for business owners who invest in renewable energy.

“We small business owners, and farmers too, do our banking right here in Austin. So the money, and the jobs stay here,” he said.

The Aults are interested in the issue because of the potential impact of global warming on agriculture and the importance of farming to rural economies.

Dwight said, “I believe the U.S. needs to lead on global warming or we will fall behind in the global economy.”

They also met with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who discussed how the legislation would challenge farmers to be creative and innovative in areas of renewable energy, crop production, and biofuels. He said the ACES bill will create more income for rural America by providing grants for renewable projects and carbon off-sets which farmers can sell.

Clean Energy Works is a national coalition working to pass ACES under a mission to create more jobs, less pollution and greater security.

Formed in 1998, Minnesota Environmental Partnership is a coalition of more than 75 conservation and environmental organizations, dedicated to protecting and restoring Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams; forests and wilderness areas; clean air and natural areas. For more information, visit