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Environmentally friendly energy doable, affordable
Luncheon speaker shows figures, feasibility

by Michelle L. Quinn, Post Tribune correspondent, September 18, 2010

Converting to environmentally friendly energy sources can be expensive, but considering how much is spent on oil in the United States, there really isn't much difference.

The United States in 1970 purchased 24 percent of its oil from overseas, Legacy Environmental vice president Carl Lisek told the Lake County Action Committee at Teibel's on Friday afternoon during its first luncheon after breaking for the summer. Now, it purchases 65 percent; in August alone, it purchased 382 billion barrels at a cost of $29.3 billion. With just half of that money, environmental choices can be implemented.

The issue is people's fear of the unknown, members of the audience agreed, as did the U.S. Senate, which did not pass the biodiesel credit. As such, many green jobs that have been created are in danger of being lost.

"People don't' like change," Tri-Town Safety Village Executive Director Bill Jarvis said.

But getting behind one solution isn't the panacea the country needs, either, Lisek said. Every innovation - propane, natural gas, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen - has a place in making the environment less dependent on fossil fuels.

Legacy Environmental, which has its office in the Purdue Technology Center in Crown Point, has worked with municipalities and school districts in Northwest Indiana since 2003 and has had reasonable success. By 2011, Legacy will have secured $15 million in grant funding for entities looking to make environmental changes.

And as air-quality regulations start becoming more stringent, there will be little choice but em brace them. But Lisek is confident that Northwest Indiana will rise to the challenge.

"Not to be cliché, but our diversity is our strength here in Northern Indiana," he said.

By the Numbers

$12 billion, or two weeks' worth of what the United States spent on oil in August, could buy the following:

  • 15,000, 250-kilowatt wind turbines
  • 600,000 residential rooftop solar power systems
  • 60,000 single-family homes
  • 484,000 public, or 125,000 private college tuitions
  • 1 year's worth of food for 1 million families of four
  • 1 year's worth of health insurance for 2.7 billion people

Source: Carl Lisek, Legacy Environmental Services, Inc.