Energy Bill Hits Another Roadblock

Senate leaders delay action on slimmed-down energy bill until late March. Compiled by staff

Published on: Feb 26, 2004

Farm groups are once again disappointed with action taken on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Tom Daschle have decided to delay a vote on the slimmed-down energy bill until late March.

In response, the National Corn Growers Association and 12 other organizations sent a letter to Senate  Frist and Daschle asking the Senate to "seize every legislative opportunity to enact into law the RFS and renewable energy tax provisions, which enjoy broad bipartisan support and will create a more sustainable energy and economic future in America."

The two leaders have been unable to persuade Democratic senators from limiting the number of amendments. New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici introduced the slimmed down $14 billion bill two weeks ago.

"This legislation just makes good sense," NCGA President Dee Vaughan says. "Aside from bolstering our domestic energy security, RFS would create new jobs, increase opportunities for corn growers and help to protect our environment. It’s obvious that the American public is behind this legislation; now we just need our lawmakers to close the deal."

The coalition also points out employment benefits that are likely to result from RFS enactment. RFS alone is expected to account for more than 214,000 new jobs, while the comprehensive energy legislation package is estimated to produce nearly 1 million new jobs. "Such an employment increase is needed, particularly across rural America where small towns and family farms need the economic stimulus," the letter says.

Amid reports that floor action on the energy bill may be delayed until late March, Vaughan restated the need for prompt action on important renewable fuels legislation. "We’re getting closer," says Vaughan. "But we still have some significant obstacles to clear. This has been a long process, and we’re hopeful our elected officials will step up to the plate and do what’s best for U.S. employment, the economy and the environment."

Other groups signing the letter were: Renewable Fuels Association; American Coalition for Ethanol; American Farm Bureau Federation; National Farmers Union; National Biodiesel Board; American Soybean Association; National Grain Sorghum Producers; New Uses Council; American Corn Growers Association; Women Involved in Farm Economics; Clean Fuels Development Coalition; and Ethanol Producers and Consumers.