A deal to provide the makers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, MTBE, is no longer being considered for part of the comprehensive energy bill. House and Senate conferees are abandoning the proposal for an $11.4 billion MTBE cleanup fund, clearing the way for enactment of broad energy legislation.
Reports say Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, plans to abandon the proposal he hoped would serve as a compromise to prevent MTBE from being a roadblock as it was last year. While MTBE issues are still being discussed, a cleanup fund and liability protection is not included.
Conferees are still negotiating the level of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The Senate level calls for 8 billion gallons of ethanol and the House only 5 billion gallon. CBS reports that Barton is strongly opposed to the higher number.
The level of the tax package is also an unknown waiting to be decided. The Senate's version heavily subsidizes renewable energy sources and conservation. The Senate price tag is $14 billion. The House-passed $8-billion package supports oil, gas and nuclear industries. A compromise between the two levels is expected.
Negotiators plan to continue work on completing an energy bill Monday, with votes in both houses before week's end. If so, meeting President Bush's desire to have a bill on his desk by August 1 is likely.