In 2010 there will be much debate in Congress about stimulating the economy and creating jobs. There will also be much debate about America's energy future. For rural America, the two are closely linked. No otherbill in Congress will have greater potential to create jobs and revitalize rural communities than federal renewable energy legislation.

The Center for Rural Affairs' analysis of Department of Energy research on the economic impact of a 20 percent Renewable Energy Standard (RES) requiring large utilities to acquire 20 percent of their retail electric sales from renewable sources reveals enormous potential economic benefits for rural America in wind energy development.

Nationally, nearly $800 million in annual payments to farmers, ranchers and other landowners and several hundred thousand new, long-term jobs in operations and industries directly linked to wind energy. And the economic development potential of wind energy favors rural communities, something Congressional jobs bills rarely do.

Moreover, there is an urgent need for the United States to attract more clean energy investment. China, Japan and the European Union have announced huge incentives for clean energy. China secured more private investment in clean energy technology than the U.S. for the first time in 2008.

Prompting strong investment in wind energy development will create jobs and spur economic development across rural America. Americans invented much of the clean energy technology in use today, and we deserve the jobs it will bring but those jobs are in jeopardy without a strong, federal renewable electricity standard.

John Crabtree

Center for Rural Affairs

Nebraska