Sen. Al Franken and the United States of Algal America
Thirty seconds into his address to the crowd at the 2011 Algae Biomass Summit in Minneapolis, Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., had the entire room chuckling, capitalizing on his customary charm and humor. The room was packed, people standing against the walls without an extra seat in the huge conference hall available. But over the course of his speech, the tone of his message, although sprinkled with clever remarks and jokes, including a phrase in which he called the USA the United States of Algal America, Franken’s message was serious.
“I don’t need to tell this group your work has the potential to revolutionize our nation’s energy mix,” he said. His assessment of the industry was one of great praise, but he made specific mention to the role he and his colleagues in the Senate could help play in the future.
For Franken, supporting the algae industry means supporting job growth, and it also means supporting national security. Like all renewable fuels, he explained, it will take strong state and federal partnerships to help the industry. And one of the first things Franken believes he, as well as his colleagues, can do “is replace big oil subsidies,” a statement that ignited the crowd into a cheer, especially after he made a direct comment to the fossil fuel industry. “It’s time to stop subsidizing dirty energy.”
As Congress moves to make sweeping budget cuts, he said we still have a lot of work to do in Washington, but he noted that he will fight those cuts if it means clean energy funding cutbacks. Maybe he wasn’t joking about the U.S. of Algal America.