Work continues on a comprehensive energy bill with the appointment of House conferees to assist in settling out differences between the Senate and House version.
Joe Barton, D-Texas, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, will chair the conference committee, which held its first meeting on Thursday. It is possible the conferees could finish work on the conference report before Congress adjourns for its August break, but the schedule is likely to slip into the fall.
"We are very pleased the House has named their conferees so the energy discussions between the House and Senate will move forward," says Leon Corzine, National Corn Growers Association president. "Our organization is committed to finishing an energy bill this summer, and we are working with the conferees to reach that end."
Corzine says the record high prices of gasoline, which now average $2.33 a gallon, and oil, which is about $60 a barrel, are indicators of the critical need for an energy policy.
"These prices give the nationâ€™s consumers reason to be outraged," Corzine says. "Every day that we delay in getting an energy policy, we bleed money, risk security and our economic stability. It is critical we move our country forward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and replacing it with domestically grown renewable fuels such as ethanol. An energy bill that includes an 8-billion-gallon renewable fuels standard (RFS) will do just that."
Prior to the appointment of conferees, the House struck down a motion by a vote of 217 201 to 201 by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., to instruct conferees to remove from H.R. 6 a controversial provision that would grant MTBE a liability waiver. The MTBE waiver would retroactively prohibit a number of defective product lawsuits filed by several northeastern states and California. The House energy bill, approved in April, includes an MTBE liability waiver; the Senate bill does not. MTBE was a major sticking point in the last energy bill debate.
NCGA is continuing the push for an 8-billion-gallon RFS as part of the energy bill and is encouraging all growers to make visits and call their legislators to push them to support the 8-billion-gallon RFS. Last week nearly 200 growers have walked the halls of both chambers to promote an energy bill with an 8-billion-gallon RFS.
For a full list of the conferees, click HERE.