From a story by John DesRivieres on WSAW-TV:

With issues like the economy and health care on every body’s mind, it can be easy to forget about environmental issues.

But there’s a little known place in the Northwoods, where scientists are working with government officials to help make a greener nation.

“It’s used by legislators, policy makers, forest managers,” says Eric Gustafson, the Director of Applied Eco-Systems Studies.

Eric Gustafson says he knows as well as anybody how important energy independence is.

“The nation has a growing demand for energy, we’ve come to realize for a number of reasons that dependence on foreign oil is not a good thing,” Gustafson says.

Gustafson and a team of scientists are conducting several studies that will help shape the nation’s environmental policies.

At the top of the list, renewable energy.

The Institute is researching how to grow hybrid poplar trees that can grow up to four times faster than an average tree.

Poplar trees are a great source of ethanol and can be burned to create electricity.

“The ability to grow trees rapidly and convert them into energy has a great impact not only for the climate but the stability of politics in the world,” says Gustafson.