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Harkin: President will call for more biofuels

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told reporters Thursday that President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address next Tuesday is expected to call for a substantial increase in biofuels production.

"I'm told he's going to call for 60 billion gallons by 2030," said Harkin, a strong supporter of renewable fuels who is the new Democratic chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

If the President calls for that much biofuels production, it would be similar to a bipartisan bill recently introduced by Harkin and Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN).

Harkin said he has talked to Rob Portman, head of the White House's Office of Management and Budget about the importance of including enough funds in the President's budget to make the transition to a biofuels economy. Harkin wants to add about $20 billion into the USDA budget to help pay for incentives to encourage farmers to raise crops such as switchgrass that could be used to produce ethanol from cellulose.

He argues that that's the amount of money saved in the 2002 farm bill, mainly because commodity programs were less expensive than projected.

"If the President comes out next week and we have a big push for biofuels, will his budget reflect the reality [of the cost of making that transition]?" Harkin asked.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told reporters Thursday that President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address next Tuesday is expected to call for a substantial increase in biofuels production.

A White House spokesman confirmed Friday that energy security will be an important part of President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address to Congress next Tuesday, but he declined to go into detail.

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