Jackson Sun - Pete Wickham
While details of that future are still on the drawing board or debate table, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander told an audience of 200 politicians, farmers and agribusinessmen that Tennessee "is well-placed to take a leadership role" in the production and growth of alternative fuels.
Alexander was speaking at a roundtable discussion on the future of biofuels and the state's agriculture health at the West Tennessee Ag Center this morning.
"Much like the combination of factors that led to the auto industry coming to the South 25 years ago, I see us being unusually well-placed to take a leadership role because of our location and our ability to grow the kinds of things needed to make these new fuels," said Alexander, who chairs the Senate Energy Subcommittee. "I'm excited by the promise, but it's still just promise. We have a long ways to go."
He said that the nation can't afford to pass up this opportunity for more self-sufficiency.
"If we want to keep producing one-quarter of the world's wealth with 4 percent of the world's population, we can't keep sending money to the same places that we're sending our fighting forces," he said. "That doesn't make sense."
Dr. Jim Byford, dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee Martin and one of the members of the panel, said that farmers have "the capability to provide significant amounts of energy without hampering our ability to grow food."
Read more about this story in Tuesday's edition of The Jackson Sun.