Various legislation pieces proposed in House, Senate

By | October 26, 2006
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As the end of Septemberalso the end of the 2005-'06 congressional sessionapproached and mid-term elections neared, at least seven different legislative proposals regarding biofuels were announced.

In a followup to his August speech at the Richard G. Lugar-Purdue University Summit on Energy Security. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., introduced the National Fuels Initiative of 2006, which detailed an expanded energy plan. The legislation, released Sept. 29, includes five specific proposals, including the creation of long-term assurances that alternative fuels could remain economically competitive if oil prices were to drop below $45 per barrel. In return, the bill would reduce taxpayer-funded subsidies when high oil prices result in highly competitive and profitable alternative fuels.

Lugar also partnered with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to introduce the Ethanol Infrastructure Expansion Act. This legislation would require the U.S. secretary of energy to study the feasibility of constructing one or more dedicated ethanol pipelines from the Midwest to the East and West coasts. Though the bills were introduced as the session came to a close, they will serve as the beginning of discussion next year, according to Lugar's Press Secretary Andy Fisher.

In another attempt to service the coasts with ethanol, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Sept. 5 that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide a tax incentive for ethanol production in high-consumption, low-production states. The Ethanol Stimulus Act of 2006 would allow a larger depreciation schedule for new ethanol facilities in states that produce less than 2 percent of U.S. ethanol supply, yet consume 2 percent or more of the total gasoline purchased there.

Sen. George Allen, R-Va., also introduced a bill at the last hour to establish America's Energy Security Initiative. In a speech on Sept. 8, he outlined a five-point plan to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil, including increased research and development of energy alternatives. His bill, released Sept. 28, requires the president to establish a permanent Energy Security Working Group.

On the other side of Congress, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., introduced legislation to authorize the U.S. secretary of energy to make certain loan guarantees of up to $20 billion for automakers to develop alternative fuels, hybrids and other energy-saving technologies. Because the bill was introduced Sept. 28, it didn't make it out of committee. Rogers also introduced legislation that would provide grants from money collected from violations of the corporate average fuel economy program to be used to expand infrastructure necessary to increase the availability of alternative fuels. After making it successfully through the House, the bill was in a Senate committee at the end of the session.