House unleashes flurry of domestic ethanol support
At least two more bills to promote ethanol and energy independence were introduced in the Senate Wednesday. One is backed by Democrats. The other is a bipartisan bill that advances ideas that also have the backing of the American Coalition for Ethanol, a group that represents ethanol makers and commodity groups.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Energy Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) bill that would provide the president authority to increase the renewable content of motor fuel to 25 percent by 2025. It calls for 25 percent of vehicles sold in the United States to run on ethanol, biodiesel or alternative fuels by 2010. The legislation also requires that 10 percent of electricity in the country come from renewable sources by 2020.
The EDGE bill, supported by Democrats, has the backing of National Farmers Union as well.
"Our policy is that we'll endorse any of the bills that fit with our philosophy," Farmers Union President Tom Buis told Agriculture Online Wednesday.
For example, Farmers Union supports a voluntary farmer-owned grain reserve that would supply ethanol plants if the industry could be hurt by a potential short crop. Buis said he worries that the oil industry would bash ethanol as unreliable if it was affected by widespread drought.
Buis thinks the more bills, the better, no matter what the motivation behind them. "We've got to strike while the iron is hot and not backslide," he said. He also likes another bill that was introduced Tuesday and has the support of the American Coalition for Ethanol.
That bill, the Biofuels Security Act, was introduced by Senator Richard Lugar and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The bill would require all vehicles to be flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), require the major branded U.S. gasoline companies to carry E-85 renewable fuel (motor fuel with 85 percent ethanol content) at 50 percent of their gasoline stations and extend, and increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
The legislation would require all U.S. marketed vehicles to be manufactured as FFVs by 2016. FFVs can use both regular gasoline and E-85 renewable fuel, and this capability ensures access to an important alternative to foreign petroleum as the nation's renewable fuels industry continues to expand rapidly.
There was more good news for ethanol this week, when the House leadership backed away from supporting President Bush's call for dropping the tariff on imported ethanol. In a statement released today, Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) praised the decision.
Last week, Nussle and Iowa Republican Congressmen Jim Leach, Tom Latham, and Steve King wrote to Speaker Dennis Hastert urging him to keep the Brazilian Ethanol Tariff in place.
"I am pleased that House Leadership has decided to protect Iowa farmers and our nation's ethanol industry by keeping the Brazilian Ethanol Tariff in place," Nussle said. "Removing the tariff would not ease the burden of high gas prices on Iowans and working families, but it would undercut current efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. The long-term solution to our energy needs is growing a domestic supply of clean-burning, environmentally-friendly renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, being produced by farmers in Iowa and across the country. The last thing our government should do is add a new addiction to foreign ethanol on top of our current dependence on foreign oil."