Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy

This post was written by Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director and Senior Counsel to the Land Conservation and Wildlife Program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Westerners are pioneering a new frontier of economic opportunity through homegrown clean energy solutions. The Clean Energy Pioneers website chronicles the people, businesses and communities across the intermountain West who are laying the foundation for the nation’s clean energy economy.

A new publication out this week, Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy [PDF], compiles some of these stories. Here are just a few:

The release of these inspiring stories coincides with the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting this weekend, where the governors will be gathering to celebrate “100 Years of Common Ground” in working together to protect the region’s natural resources.

Not only will clean energy conserve our natural resources and improve our air quality, it will also boost our local economies and strengthen our energy security.  According to Rich O’Connell, Director of the Logan County, Colo. Economic Development Corp and one of the pioneers quoted in the report, “Wind energy generates income for families and it grows the tax base to build roads, bridges, schools and social services.”

The West is investing in its future by establishing clean energy education and training programs at community colleges to help create the workforce of tomorrow.  New Mexico and Colorado are each home to over a half dozen of such educational centers.

As Tyson Ramseier, a pioneer featured in the report who will graduate in May 2011 from the Wind Energy Technician program at Colorado’s Northeastern Junior College, so cogently put it,

“[Renewable energy] will not only improve the economy by generating cleaner and cheaper electricity, but it also provides jobs as well.”

Clean Energy Pioneers:  Building a Stronger Western Economy complements the Clean Energy Pioneers multimedia project documented by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund.

Download Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy [PDF].

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