Describes Goals For Job Creation in Energy and Natural Resources for Alabama
July 30, 2012 – Charleston, WV – Senator Ward spoke to the Southern States Energy Board at the Annual Southern Legislative Conference in Charleston, WV this weekend. He highlighted the abundance of natural resources of all types, and the opportunity for job creation in the energy sector in Alabama, and what state legislators in Alabama and throughout the country can do to ensure a favorable climate for such opportunities.
“As the Chairman for the Senate Energy Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy in Alabama, I proud that Alabama is ranked 13th in the nation for energy production” Ward said. “The energy and environmental legislation this last session arose out of a need to define Alabama’s energy policy, and make sure we work collaboratively to make sure we take advantage of all the opportunities we have in our state. I am so glad to have the chance to talk about these issues with my colleagues from around the country.”
Since the creation of the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy in 2007, the Alabama Legislature has adopted 10 bills and 5 significant joint resolutions, all centered on the main purpose of creating the committee. Those key themes: Prioritizing energy resource development, taking the lead in developing alternative fuels, encouraging state government to lead by example, educate the public and provide incentives for wise energy use, and long term energy planning provided the basis for the bills and resolutions passed.
“Working together with industry leaders, department heads, private citizens and smart Alabamians from across the spectrum, we have been able to pass legislation that deals smartly with energy policy over the last 6 years,” Ward said. “And we will continue to find ways that a wise energy policy – market based solutions and not burdensome regulations, can help energy sector jobs flourish in our state. A little over 75% of Alabama’s renewable energy is hydroelectricity. We must continue to develop that energy source and expand it into the area of biomass and other natural resources developed in our state. Alabama has the opportunity to lead the south in the export of energy if we balance our efforts.”
“We worked hard to make sure the institute sponsored smart and honest laws that streamlined The Alabama Code,” Ward said. “One of my goals as president is providing Alabama’s citizens with the best legal protections we can, while lessening the burden on business – allowing our citizens to get back to work.”
The Joint Committee realized as a result of a Prohibition-era law, the transport of ethanol was illegal in Alabama. They quickly acted to change that law so Alabama can encourage the development of cellulosic ethanol and biofuels. As a direct result of the work the committee has done, it is now legal to manufacture sell and transport these important alternative fuels.
In the 2012 Regular Session, Ward joined Rep. Greg Wren in sponsoring legislation to create a Research and Development Fund that can take money from private sources and grants, as well as state and federal appropriations, which is housed in the Center for Alternative Fuels under the Commissioner of Agriculture. The goal of this fund is to make Alabama the leader in alternative energy development.
“Alternative Energy is something that speaks to the boundless creativity of America, and I think we should do all we can as legislators to encourage companies to invest in that sector,” Ward said. “But make no mistake, I also believe in harnessing all of our resources as a state and nation – this is not about stopping fossil fuel development, it is truly about doing all we can to create jobs, and provide an environment for research and development.”
–Press Release from the Office of Senator Cam Ward