SALEM, Ohio – A new energy package is one signature away from more than doubling the country’s use of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol.
After years of debate, Congress passed the energy bill July 29. It now awaits the president’s approval.
Agricultural groups, including American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union, joined in their support for the national energy plan. Their primary interest was in the renewable fuels standard, which increases ethanol and biodiesel use to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.
In addition, biodiesel tax credit use will be extended until the end of 2008 and tax credits will also be extended for wind and biomass.
“Also of major importance within the bill are provisions that should provide alternatives to natural gas use, thus reducing natural gas demand,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.
‘Profound.’ Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen called the bill “the most profound rural economic stimulus package since the New Deal.”
Just by increasing the use of renewable fuels, approximately 243,000 jobs will be created in America and nearly $200 billion will be added to the economy, said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
It does this by creating a new market for waste such as poultry litter, livestock waste and forestry biomass, which can be converted to clean-burning fuel, he said.
In addition, corn, wheat, grain sorghum and soybeans can be used to produce ethanol, he added.
Funding was also earmarked for increased research, development and deployment of bio-based fuels, chemical and power.
The energy bill also includes $1.6 billion in tax credits for the construction of clean coal facilities. This includes the 600 MW Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plant scheduled to be built in southern Ohio, said Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio.
Highlights. Included in the energy bill is a tax credit for gas stations to install clean-fuel refueling equipment, such as that for E-85. This ethanol-based fuel alternative is up to 50 cents cheaper per gallon than unleaded gasoline.
The credit is meant to spur the construction of more E-85 stations.
The plan also updates the small ethanol producer definition to 60 million gallons.
Other highlights include tax incentives to consumers who buy energy-efficient hybrid, clean diesel and fuel cell vehicles.
The bill also requires the Department of Transportation to increase fuel economy standards.
Consumers will also receive tax incentives for purchasing energy-efficient appliances and homeowners will get a break with energy-efficient upgrades.
Working it out. After years of political gridlock, the House passed the bill 275-156 and the Senate passed it 74-26.
Previously the bill had been hung up over a controversial liability waiver for manufacturers of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). The additive used to meet oxygenate requirements reportedly contaminated drinking water in 27 states.
Energy bill OKs nation’s
first coal-to-liquid fuel plant
WASHINGTON – In addition to passing the energy bill, Congress also approved language that authorizes financing for the nation’s first clean coal-to-liquid fuel plant, on the drawing board in Pennsylvania.
“This provision will greatly assist our national security by improving our domestic energy supply,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., added that the technology could potentially dramatically reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
This language allows a portion of funds already appropriated to the Department of Energy and awarded to WMPI Pty. LLC, a coal and energy company based in Schuylkill County, Pa., through a Clean Coal Power Initiative competitive grant to be used to fund a federal loan guarantee for the company’s coal-to-diesel project.
The company projects that 1,600 jobs will be created at the Schuylkill County plant alone.
This Fischer-Tropsch technology project, which turns waste coal into high quality zero-sulfur diesel fuel, will be the first coal-to-liquid fuel project in the U.S.
Although this technology is not new, no other project of its kind exists in the U.S., the senators said.
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