Congress is again pushing for Renewable Fuels Standard legislation. But pushing for 6 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into the nation's fuel supply annually by 2012, an increase of 20% over last Congress' RFS number.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Kit Bond, R-Mo., brought the RFS challenge to the Senate floor this week as a way to increase the contribution of ethanol and biodiesel to the U.S. fuel supply.
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Leon Corzine applauded the senators' bill. "We recognize this is only the first step in the lengthy legislative process to get a comprehensive energy bill to the presidentâ€™s desk this year. We will work to ensure that RFS legislation is successfully passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW)."
Corzine adds that the introduction is proof that legislators are "getting serious about this nation's energy crisis." He says NCGA is hopeful Congress will be able to finally send an energy bill to the President this year.
NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Daryl Haack notes the senators have started the process on a positive note by increasing the RFS number and advancing the implementation schedule. Yet, much work remains to be done, he says.
"Congress has acknowledged that the U.S. ethanol industryâ€™s production capacity is growing at a pace that could not have been imagined in 2001 when the original RFS agreement was reached," Haack says. "NCGA will continue to push for a higher number on the Senate floor and in conference with the House to further reflect the extraordinary growth of our domestic corn-based ethanol industry."
NCGA will work with the senators and others to make additional improvements to the bill.
"Our first goal is to ensure a bill is successfully passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, but that isnâ€™t our end goal," says David Gillen, a South Dakota grower and member of NCGAâ€™s Public Policy Action Team. "Our end goal is to secure final passage by Congress of a comprehensive energy bill that includes an RFS, and get the bill to the presidentâ€™s desk this year. With oil and natural gas prices rising so dramatically, our nation must have sound energy policy enacted into law."
Reports by the Energy Information Agency note the ethanol industry produced a record 3.4 billion gallons in 2004, created more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, reduced gasoline prices, cut crude oil imports, increased farm income, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.