Stop calling it ‘green energy’

Anything that requires a subsidy to get going and more subsidies to maintain is about the furthest thing from green energy you can get. Let’s talk about the real green: plants.

First, let’s not forget how hijacked the term “green” has become. We are now trying to convince people non-living objects that exist in nature are somehow part of the green energy movement.

Recently, I made my way to Leesburg, Indiana, to visit with Kip Tom at his farm. This is where it really hit me the answer to climate health is growing more green, living things. We all know that but sometimes you need a slap in the face to refresh your memory. While I am not exactly clear on the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by grasslands in the cycle of life, we do know the measurement of one grass species thanks to Michigan State University.

The corn plant, a grass, absorbs 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre in one growing season. In return for that plant growth and production, we are given corn for livestock feed (38%), ethanol (34%), global exports (17%) and the balance for food items and other industrial uses. As another reminder, it is the cycle of life we are supporting in that process. Yes carbon dioxide is released as some of these processes take place but again that is what the cycle of life is all about.

When it comes to grasslands, it is much more difficult to arrive at the number because an acre in the Nevada desert will be much different than an acre in the Florida Everglades, but we do have science that documents that it is an amazing process.

Kat Kerlin, UC Davis, reported, ‘“Looking ahead, our model simulations show that grasslands store more carbon than forests because they are impacted less by droughts and wildfires,’ said lead author Pawlok Dass, a postdoctoral scholar in Professor Benjamin Houlton’s lab at UC Davis. ‘This doesn’t even include the potential benefits of good land management to help boost soil health and increase carbon stocks in rangelands.’”

So we need to just leave it to green plants, another of God’s creations, to keep the planet healthy. Somehow the powers that be want us to fall for the trap that green energy is something else. At a recent meeting near Platte, South Dakota, where there is a Missouri River Storage Pump proposal in both Charles Mix and Gregory counties, Brad Lawrence, an engineer for Brozs, said something very interesting. “The project here would require 9,000 acres of solar panels to provide enough electricity for this pump station.”

While they are not proposing that this project be 100% solar, that statement made me wonder, “What does 9,000 acres of solar panels do to CO2 absorption if they are taken out of crop production?”

I found a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that states that government plans would have 2 million acres of solar panels in the United States by 2030.

“A large fixed-tilt photovoltaic solar power plant that produces 1,000 megawatt-hours per year requires, on average, 2.8 acres for the solar panels. This means that a solar power plant that provides all of the electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land, according to the report.”

How green is an energy project that does not function without a government subsidy and when it also prevents green plants from growing and taking carbon dioxide out of the air?

This project would use wind and solar power to pump water 750 feet above the Missouri River up onto land (3,500 acres) that is currently deeded private farming property into a man-made basin. Then during peak energy needs, drop the water back into the river through a wheel and capture the energy on the way down. For the record, no one is proposing that the energy collection will even be a net gain from the energy spent.

For the record, the 3,500 acres that they want to take over for this basin are currently growing plants, absorbing carbon dioxide and producing food. Meanwhile, a basin will be absorbing no carbon dioxide and producing zero food. The real problem is that this is just one little project that the New Green Deal is trying to shove down everyone’s throat and there appears to be plenty more. Let’s quit calling it “green energy” and start calling it a get rich quick scheme for those who’ve created it.

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the views of High Plains Journal. Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at [email protected].