The U.S. Senate passed the comprehensive energy bill conference report, H.R. 6, by a strong, bipartisan vote of 74 to 26 on Friday. The bipartisan bill passed 74-26 and now heads to President George W. Bush for his signature.
The energy bill contains a 7.5-billion-gallon renewable fuels standard (RFS). The RFS schedule calls for 4 billion gallons of ethanol being blended into the nationâ€™s fuel supply in 2006, increasing to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.
In addition to a 7.5 billion gallon RFS, the bill updates the small ethanol producer definition to 60 million gallons, extends the biodiesel tax credit through 2008, and establishes a 30% tax credit up to $30, 000 for the cost of installing clean fuel refueling equipment, such as an E85 fuel pump.
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Leon Corzine called the passage "one of the most significant votes on national energy policy in over a decade."
"Not since 1992 has the United States Congress enacted a comprehensive national energy policy. We are delighted that this legislation promotes more diverse and domestically based energy sources and we are particularly happy that this bill will expand the use of domestic renewable fuels," says Corzine. "Everyone wins with the Energy Policy Act of 2005."
"After four-plus years, the country is finally one signature away from having a more sustainable, forward-looking energy policy," states Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen.
"While support for the biofuels provisions is deep, wide, and bipartisan, itâ€™s fair to say we wouldnâ€™t be here without the sheer determination of Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici," Dinneen adds. "His leadership, combined with the effective advocacy for farmers by Senate conferees Chuck Grassley, Tim Johnson, and Byron Dorgan, has brought us to the brink of success. Indeed, this bill is likely the most profound rural economic stimulus package since the New Deal."
Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extended to 2008
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and American Soybean Association hailed Congress's passage of the Energy Bill as a crucial step forward in establishing biodiesel as a long-term component of the nation's energy supply. The bill passed with several provisions to promote biodies's growth, including the extension of a federal excise tax credit, the industry's number one priority.
The tax incentive, established originally as part of the American JOBS Creation Act of 2004, would have expired in 2006. It will now be extended through 2008. Senators Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Jim Talent, R-Mo., were the chief sponsors of the extension.
The excise tax credit amounts to a penny per percentage point of biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel for "agri-biodiesel," such as that made from soybean oil, and a half-penny per percentage for biodiesel made from other sources. It is taken at the blender lever with the intended effect of lowering the cost of biodiesel to consumers in taxable and tax exempt markets.
The bill will now go to President George Bush, who has indicated heâ€™ll sign the measure into law.