Is clean energy just a new excuse for more political grandstanding? In his Jan. 31 State of the Union address, President Bush announced an "Advanced Energy Initiative" that includes increased attention on renewable energy technology. But in early February, 32 workers at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., lost their jobs after Congress cut funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs (HCN, 2/6/06: Lawmakers chop up renewable-energy fund). Then, on Feb. 19 — just two days before Bush was scheduled to visit the renewable energy lab — Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., announced that the Energy Department was able to shift enough money from other programs to bring the fired employees back to work.
You can’t buy it at a roadside stand, and 4-H doesn’t give any prizes for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a real crop. Washington state officials say that the $270 million worth of marijuana plants they seized last year makes pot the No. 8 agricultural commodity in the state, ahead of cherries (HCN, 10/31/05: The Public Lands' Big Cash Crop). Officials won’t estimate how much more marijuana — much of which is grown on public lands — they didn’t get their hands on. It may still be a while, however, before pot overtakes apples, Washington’s No. 1 crop, which bring in nearly a billion dollars a year.