WASHINGTON Oct 18 Citing delays in reconciling
energy legislation passed by both chambers of Congress earlier
this year, two Democratic senators on Thursday unveiled a
stand-alone bill to require 18 billion gallons of renewable
fuels to be blended with U.S. gasoline supply by 2016.
Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat and 2008 presidential
candidate, and Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat and chairman of
the Senate Agriculture Committee, offered a bill that would
raise the U.S. renewable fuel standard to 18 billion gallons by
2016, including 3 billion gallons from advanced biofuels like
Corn prices are at record levels mostly due to stellar
growth in demand for for ethanol. Iowa and Illinois lead the
nation in corn production.
The ethanol measure could be tacked on to a farm bill that
the Senate is preparing to debate in coming weeks.
An energy bill the Senate passed in June would mandate a
four-fold increase in ethanol use in motor gasoline, to 36
billion gallons by 2022.
However, attempts to reconcile the Senate bill with the
version passed by the House of Representatives have stalled.
The House bill contains no ethanol mandates.
U.S. ethanol plants are forecast to produce about 6.5
billion gallons in 2007, according to the Renewable Fuels
"If we are serious about creating clean, renewable sources
of energy, we need to support the creation of a domestic
biofuels industry that will take us from corn ethanol to
cellulosic ethanol," Obama said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, the top
Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, asked Senate leaders
to revive formal talks with the House to reconcile energy
Domenici's call comes a week after House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi all but ruled out a formal bargaining session, citing
opposition from Senate lawmakers.
"We regret the Speaker's decision to do this and we are
deeply concerned about the integrity of long-standing
procedures in the Congress if the Speaker's decision is allowed
to stand," Domenici said to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.