25x'25 founding member Bill Richards, a farmer from Circelville, has stepped down as co-chairman of the Alliance's Steering Committee, a position he has held since the renewable energy advocacy group was created in 2004. Richards will stay on as a member of the committee.
Succeeding Richards as Steering Committee co-chairman is Bart Ruth, a Nebraska corn and soybean producer. Ruth, who also heads up the Alliance's policy committee, is a former president of the American Soybean Association, and was named an Eisenhower Fellow for Agriculture in 2005.
J. Read Smith, another 25x'25 founder who is a Washington state wheat, small grains and cattle producer, and a former president of the National Association of Conservation Districts, has agreed to stay on as the other Steering Committee co-chairman.
Richards is an Ohio corn and soybean producer and a former chief of the USDA's Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. He was among a select group of U.S. agricultural leaders called together by the nonpartisan Energy Future Coalition in a working group charged with enhancing the role of farms, ranches and forestlands in diversifying America's energy resources.
The working group soon evolved into the 25x'25 Alliance and under Richards' leadership, has become evolved into powerful coalition united behind the goal of America's farms, ranches and forestlands meeting 25% of the nation's energy needs with renewable sources by the year 2025. To date, the 25x'25 goal has been endorsed by nearly 1,000 partners, 35 current and former governors and 15 state legislatures.
"It has been an honor to help lead this organization over the past eight years," Richards says. "The incredible growth of renewable energy we have experienced in this country in a relatively short period of time is in no small part due to the hard work of my fellow Steering Committee members and nearly 1,000 groups, companies and other endorsing partners who share our vision.
"While I have chosen to step down from my Steering Committee leadership position, I intend to continue to stay on the committee and continue my efforts in helping this country to reach the 25x'25 goal," he says.
Smith said he was sorry to see his long-time co-chairman step down, but was re-assured by Richard's plan to stay on the Steering Committee and continue his work.
"Bill has been a real advocate of progress for our committee and has served as a true voice for the American farmer in this pursuit of a clean energy future," Smith said.
"I am very excited that Bart is stepping up and I am sure he will more than adequately fill the big shoes left by Bill Richards," Smith says.
Ruth has been critical in efforts to inform lawmakers and other policy makers of the critical role renewable energy is playing in boosting the nation's economy, enhance its national security and improve the environment.
Ruth, who helped spearhead the successful effort to get the 25x'25 goal included in the Energy Independence and Security Act approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2007, said he welcomes his new leadership role.
"I am proud to be a part of this effort that benefits both the American farmer and the American energy consumer," Ruth says. "I plan to follow Bill Richard's lead and leverage the voices of our many, many endorsing partners to expand the role of renewable energy in powering our vehicles, our homes, our businesses and our industries."