August 11, 2009

Harrell: Focus on Alternatives

From Monday's Post and Courier: (note that coal does NOT appear in Harrell's list of SC-specific alternatives...)
Just imagine how our economy and way of life could change if the billions of petrodollars we send to unfriendly oil-controlling countries were instead pumped into our own domestic energy industries. A viable alternative energy — produced by Americans and controlled by Americans — will allow our economy to grow, take away the best weapon terrorists have, and protect American lives.

Prosperity follows energy, and we will need more energy in the future if we intend to grow our economy. But we have become a nation dependant on dwindling fossil fuels. This is partly because of a lack of energy alternatives, but in reality, it is because we have lacked the determination to develop them.

The good news is that in South Carolina, we are now actively pursuing this goal of energy independence. Along with nuclear, biomass, hydroelectric, solar and wind energy, hydrogen has emerged as a promising new energy source. Since the only byproduct of hydrogen energy is pure water, it is proving to be one of the cleanest energy sources being pursued. And right here in South Carolina, we are leading the country and the world in the race to develop hydrogen technology. Teaming up with private industries and our research universities, we are making substantial headway in developing this technology.

Industry is getting involved in this new opportunity and that is attracting more private interest and investments — investments that will create sorely needed jobs and grow our economy. Already, we are seeing real-world applications of hydrogen fuel cells in the market. Bridgestone Firestone Manufacturing in Aiken is converting its entire forklift fleet to run on more efficient and cost-effective hydrogen fuel cells. Television stations are using hydrogen to power some of their cameras. It is even being used to power the scoreboard at USC's baseball stadium.

This effort to move our country beyond foreign oil will take leadership and a willingness to break from the status quo ideas about energy. I am confident that the people of South Carolina have this ability and have the vision to see the thriving economic engine that rests just over the horizon.
Read the rest in the Post and Courier.

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