Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that, with his assistance, Minnesota is set to make key investments in renewable energy implementation. In a special announcement this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a grant to create a comprehensive plan for growing the state's biomass and timber industries.
Last month, Sen. Franken sent a letter urging the USDA to support the DNR's plan to create a Minnesota Woody Biomass Thermal Energy Team. The grant will help open new markets for Minnesota's forest resources, promote economic vitality and job creation, and utilize cleaner energy while reducing overall energy costs.
"Growing Minnesota's biomass and timber industries is important for our economy because it helps reduce the cost of energy, it decreases our dependency on foreign oil, and it creates jobs," said Sen. Franken. "And while Minnesota has enormous potential for renewable energy production, it's critical that we continue making investments in implementing these technologies. That's exactly what this grant will help us do."
Sen. Franken has long been a champion of increasing investments in renewables and energy efficiency technologies. In August, he sent a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify rules on biomass emissions so that Minnesota's forest and energy industry can continue to make key investments in new technologies.
In addition, Sen. Franken recently joined onto the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act, which would increase tax credits for fuel producers who work with biomass thermal technologies. Biomass fuels, such as wood pellets and chips or agricultural residues, can help reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.
And during a July hearing on increasing investments in clean energy technologies, Sen. Franken talked about the need to overcome financial barriers for investing in clean energy. In the hearing, he pushed for the passage of his legislation that would help industry, universities, hospitals, and communities reduce their energy costs by giving them tools to help capture and use the energy that is otherwise wasted. You can download video from that hearing here.
In the United States, up to 35 percent of the total energy consumed is now being lost from power plants, industrial facilities, and other buildings in the form of "waste heat." Sen. Franken has introduced the Local Energy Supply and Resiliency Act to help businesses, communities, and nonprofits capture that "waste heat" for use in heating, cooling, and power generation. You can read more about the Local Energy Supply and Resiliency Act here.
In June, Sen. Franken focused his first hearing as the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee's Energy Subcommittee on energy efficiency.