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Celebrating Energy Independence: Ideas for a Transition from Oil

When Independence Day rolls around each year, it’s only natural for us TreeHuggers to think about the different things that can mean. While it’s a nice excuse to meet up with family and friends, have a barbeque and maybe shoot off some fireworks, one of the first things that comes to our green-loving minds is independence from traditional (oil-based) sources of energy. By some accounts, energy independence is becoming a national imperative [www.treehugger.com]; here are some examples of some of the ways that locales around the country are beginning to celebrate (and could potential use in future celebrations of) their own energy independence.

1) Hawaii is moving toward energy independence [www.treehugger.com], doubling up on energy independence efforts: they received funding to explore a sugar-to-ethanol project, to (hopefully) put to use some of their vast sugar cane crop and keep the fuel production local, and has plans to build a 40 megawatt wind farm on Maui, which would provide enough clean energy to power thousands of homes on the island.
2) In Minnesota, the Corn Plus ethanol plant in Winnebago [www.treehugger.com] added wind turbines to its facility earlier this year, moving closer to its ultimate goal of using no outside energy in the processing plant, providing about 4.2 megawatts, or about 45 percent of the plant’s electricity.
3) At the national governmental level, the House of Representative’s new select committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming is holding hearings on employment in the green economy [www.treehugger.com], hoping that green energy jobs will lead to both more green energy and more money for companies on the independence bandwagon.
4) Further, the US Department of Energy has three possible scenarios [www.treehugger.com] for the introduction and widespread use of fuel-cell vehicles, adding up to anywhere from 2 million to 10 million cars on the road by 2025.
5) These developments are not lost on institutions of higher education; four schools in the University of Wisconsin system [www.treehugger.com] announced a plan to achieve energy independence within five years. Under a pilot program, UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stevens Point will rely on a variety of potential renewable energy sources including: solar, wind, fuel cells, renewable fuels, and biomass, as well as implementing an aggressive conservation strategy to lower energy demand.
6) In one of the more striking examples of the future of energy independence, windy but oil-rich Texas has surpassed California [www.treehugger.com] in wind power production, making the it largest producer of the renewable energy in the country.
7) Looking down the road, Eprida (that’s Earth, People, Research, Innovation, Development, Acknowledgement) offers a revolutionary new sustainable energy technology [www.treehugger.com] that could potentially help solve several of the world’s energy crises simultaneously. Their closed-loop system removes CO2 from the air by putting carbon into the topsoil where it is needed to nurture and keep it fertile. The process creates hydrogen rich bio-fuels and a restorative high-carbon fertilizer while removing net carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Confused? Check out a snapshot below

These are all meaningful developments, but all exist on a large scale, and can be a little difficult to contextualize on a micro level. Stay tuned for more ideas that can help you achieve energy independence on a smaller scale, as a family or individual.