This week leaders of the 25x’25 Alliance announced that the clean energy advocacy group was transitioning to become a special project of Solutions from the Land (SfL). 25x’25 is now heading into its second decade, and SfL is the right platform going forward.
Solutions from the Land is actually an offshoot of 25x’25, conceived and led by a team of respected agriculture, forestry, conservation, academic and industry leaders who came together in 2009 to explore integrated land management solutions that can help meet food security, public health, economic development, climate change and conservation of biodiversity goals.
SfL is a perfect fit for 25x’25, as its mission is to support and advocate for the full range of goods and services that sustainably managed farms, forests and ranches can deliver from the land – food, feed, fiber, a wide range of ecosystems services and, now, energy. Going forward, 25x’25 will form the foundation of SfL’s clean energy platform. (SfL’s two other areas of focus will be large-landscape, working lands conservation initiatives, and climate-smart agriculture.)
25x’25 was founded in 2004 as a self-directed special project of the Energy Future Coalition (EFC), a non-partisan alliance that seeks to identify and advance energy policy options with broad political support. Advocating a vision in which America’s farms, ranches and forestlands will meet 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs with renewable resources by 2025, incredible strides have been made toward achieving that goal.
At the time 25x’25 was founded, only 5.6 percent of total energy consumed in the United States came from renewable sources of energy. But with the help of nearly 1,000 partner organizations, endorsements from dozens of governors and state legislatures, and the inclusion of the 25x’25 goal in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, the momentum has grown, resulting in progressive policies at the federal and state levels over the past decade that have helped push that renewable energy consumption number to more than 10 percent and renewable power capacity to well above 13 percent. Given the surge in solar, wind, biomass and biofuel energy development and use, particularly in recent years, the 25x’25 goal is readily achievable.
But let’s be clear. The United States has a long way to go to meet the clean energy levels needed to ensure a stable, secure and domestically produced energy supply that is invulnerable to the volatility of the fossil fuel market.
So while the auspices under which 25x’25 will operate will change, the alliance’s work will not. 25x’25’s catalytic leadership has directly contributed to the big gains seen in this nation’s use of renewable energy, but much remains to be done in the final decade leading up to 2025.
Sadly, our nation still lacks a comprehensive, long-term, strategic plan to guide national energy development. Although the biofuel, wind and solar energy sectors have experienced exponential growth since the formation of 25x’25, in recent years the quest for “perfect” as opposed to other “good” forms of clean energy has created barriers which block the full potential of bioenergy solutions (both fuel and power) from being realized. In comparison to fossil fuel stakeholders, the bioenergy community writ large is still in a relatively early stage of evolution and suffers from fragmentation and the lack of a unified voice of support.
25x’25 began as an offensive campaign to define and advance a new energy future for America. Today the non-stop onslaught of negative and false messaging from the fossil fuel industry in Washington and state capitals has forced the alliance to shift into a defense mode of operation to protect enabling policies such as the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, Farm Bill Energy Title programs, and state-enacted renewable energy and efficiency standards. As critical as these enabling policy battles are, renewable energy champions must not focus solely on “save-what-we-have” strategies.
For the 25x’25 goal to be realized, 25x’25 champions must rally, unite and go on the offensive, driving home the good news about renewable energy and the economic, environmental, national security and public health benefits that these burgeoning biofuel, bioenergy, solar, wind, geothermal and small scale hydro industries are providing to the nation. For rural America, renewable energy is too big to fail. This will be 25x’25’s core mission in the second decade of leadership, and will require hard work to attain the 25x’25 national energy goal.