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Harkin backs ethanol expansion

DANIEL LOOKER 08/24/2011 @ 4:04pm Business Editor

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told the American Coalition for Ethanol Wednesday that he’ll continue to work for passage of a bill that would expand ethanol’s access to markets.

It won’t be easy.

Harkin acknowledged growing ethanol opposition in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives.

“I’ve joined with others to fight an onslaught of anti-ethanol amendments, one after another,” he told members of ACE who were meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

Last January Harkin introduced The Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2011. It would require at least half of all new cars to be flexible fuel vehicles by 2014. It provides grants to some gasoline retailers for installing blender pumps. And it provides federal loan guarantees for pipelines built for ethanol and other renewable fuels.

At this point, Harkin has no Republican co-sponsors of the bill but he told Agriculture.com that he expects Republicans who have supported similar legislation in the past to support it if it makes it to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Harkin told ACE that he expects opponents of the ethanol industry to try to weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 in the 2007 energy law. The RFS2 requires the use of ethanol and other biofuels, ramping up to 36 billion gallons used by 2022.

“In today’s crazy world of confused priorities, some members of Congress are attacking the RFS2,” Harkin told members of ACE.

Later, he said that he expects enemies of ethanol in the House of Representatives to try to amend deficit reduction legislation or an appropriations bill to change the RFS2.

Harkin said he doesn’t expect the 12-member congressional committee charged with finding more spending cuts by November 23 to succeed.

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