FEELING GREEN. The Center for American Progress partnered with The American Prospect this morning to host a discussion on forming and implementing policies for a post-petroleum society. The event was an offshoot of a recent Prospect special report that featured articles on several facets of the issue, from environmental health to farm subsidies to the possibility of a populist political movement fueled by the growth of renewable energy.

Former Senator Tom Daschle (who also wrote a piece for the Prospect report) served as moderator for the discussion, which centered on an issue near and dear to the folks in his home state of South Dakota: ethanol production. Panelist David Morris, vice president of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, proposed changing part of the federal ethanol tax exemption to a direct-payment to ethanol producers, in a way that would incentivize local ownership of bio-refineries and account for fluctuations in the price of ethanol�s main competitor, gasoline.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth, another Democrat from South Dakota, alluded to plans among congressional Democrats to release a strategy in the coming weeks to wean America off of oil in 10 years by ramping up domestic alternatives. The effort is part of the Dems so-called �Innovation Agenda,� but the prospects for passing additional energy legislation so soon after the �05 energy bill are murky at best. Herseth also alluded to efforts by farmers, enviros and others to get ethanol incentives into the 2007 farm bill, a project that Dascle is pushing along with former Senator Bob Dole.

For a refreshing dip out of policy and into reality, businessman David Hallberg was on hand to demonstrate how some of this really works. His business uses manure to power a plant that yields ethanol and cattle feedstock. Honestly, who�d a thunk it?

--Nelson Harvey


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