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Chip Comins & Michael Bowman on Hemp & Clean Energy

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail, January 22, 2014 – Industrial hemp “ is such an important fiber that can replace so many of the petrochemical products that we use throughout the entire value chain.” That’s according to Chip Comins, Chairman of The American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI).

NAIHC Advisory Associate Michael Bowman, an AREI Board member and 25x’25 National Steering Committee member, added that he expects federal legalization of industrial hemp “very soon.” 

Both explained their support for hemp in a national Sustainability News broadcast highlighting hemp as an important part of creating a more sustainable world.

Bowman called the current federal ban on hemp growing unintended. He explained that “seven decades ago” powerful interests led by the oil and chemical industries succeeded in banning industrial hemp “so that they didn’t have to compete with a very natural product that gave us 25,000 products.” Speaking as a Colorado corn farmer who was looking for new options, he said his successful battle to have industrial hemp legalized in Colorado was about not only about being able to grow a crop which requires less water and chemicals, but also because it’s a food, fiber and energy crop which can “create a lot of jobs.”

“We’re a crop that our founding fathers grew. We’re a crop that in 1862 accounted for 16 million acres  of cropland in this country,” Bowman said, adding that “Ironically, we are still today the largest consumer of industrial hemp products in the world and the only industrialized nation that doesn’t allow its farmers to grow it.”

For Bowman, “when you look at less water, less chemicals, more jobs, you can point to one crop that provides so many opportunities, and that is hemp.”

The broadcast’s host, Diana Dehm, said that her own research on hemp to prepare for the broadcast taught her that “an acre of hemp produces 300 gallons of oil, three tons of protein, and three tons of fiber. And I’m starting to learn that hemp is basically becoming the new plastic, really, I mean hemp bodies for cars.” Pointing out that wind turbine blades and towers are also being built with hemp-plastics, Bowman concluded that “Nature gives us everything we need. We don’t have to violate the laws of nature to have a growing and a robust and a clean economy.”

Listen to or download the 51 minute Sustainability News broadcast here.