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Energy Security, Rural Economies on the Table Today in Minnesota

December 12, 2006

St. Paul, MN - A new seven-state coalition called the "Midwest Ag Energy Network" holds its initial conference in Minnesota's capitol city today. Spokesman Mark Lindquist says the group's goal is to provide a blueprint for national energy independence, and to boost Midwestern states' economies.

"Renewable energy is an important strategy to meeting America's energy needs for the long term, to make sure that we have affordable energy, that our national security issues are not compromised by foreign energy dependency, and that the environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels are managed."

According to Lindquist, the economic implications for developing local, renewable sources of energy are huge for Minnesota and the Midwest.

"We're seeing hundreds of jobs being created throughout the region with millions of dollars being invested. There's opportunities for local community members, farmers, to invest and be owners of these new industries in a way that really amplifies the economic development benefits."

Lindquist says the goals of the "Energy Network" are to draw up recommendations for state and federal officials, to make the country energy-independent, and strengthen the national economic infrastructure.

Speakers at the two-day meeting include Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congressman Colin Peterson - the incoming chair of the House Agriculture Committee - and former CIA director James Woolsey, who will be talking about energy security. Lindquist estimates about 200 Agriculture leaders and energy experts from seven Midwest states are taking part.

More information is available online, at www.midwestagenergy.net. The seven states involved in the new group are Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN