Sen. Klobuchar Introduces Ethanol Legislation

A bill introduced yesterday by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) called the Securing America’s Future with Energy and Sustainable Technologies (SAFEST) Act establishes strong renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards, incentives for developing biofuels and biofuel infrastructure, and targets for the availability of advanced vehicle technologies. More specifically, the legislation would establish new incentives for biofuels infrastructure and deployment and a more cost-effective extension of tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel that reward efficient producers. In addition, on the biofuels front, it would set targets for flex-fuel vehicle development and deployment.

“The strength of our nation is tied to the strength of our energy economy,” Klobuchar said. “The United States has the ability to be the global leader in energy because of the ingenuity of our farmers and manufacturers. At a time of rising gas prices, this bill will provide incentives that can help us utilize more homegrown biofuels, strengthen our homegrown energy economy in Minnesota, and secure our energy future.”

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association said, “We thank Senator Klobuchar for her proposal. It is very thoughtful and covers many key points necessary for industry growth and responsible fiscal reform. This bill, along with other proposals such as a variable tax credit, deserve serious attention. Now is the time for this country to engage in a meaningful dialogue about our energy future. That discussion must include all forms of energy and all options must be on the table.”

And Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy added, “With the price of oil skyrocketing to $100 a barrel, we need a national energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, creates jobs here in the United States, improves our environment and strengthens our national security. Legislation that promotes access to higher levels of ethanol will help our nation achieve these goals. We commend Sens. Klobuchar and Johnson for their efforts to ensure a cleaner, more secure energy future for America.”

0 responses to “Sen. Klobuchar Introduces Ethanol Legislation”

  1. I’d be very careful about supporting this legislation without reading it very carefully. For example, the inclusion of M85 [85% Methanol] in the definition of flexible fuel automobiles, while attempting to acknowledge the existence of fuel alcohols other than ethanol, creates a serious conflict with the goal of this legislation to increase the use of RENEWABLE fuels, preferably home-grown. Specifically, virtually all methanol both currently being delivered to the United States for chemical purposes and planned for future fuel use is produced from non-renewable natural gas. Methanex, the Canadian company that has a virtual North American monopoly on methanol production, has made it very clear that an OFS with methanol would allow them to IMPORT natural gas based methanol to the United States. Is this the goal of this legislation?

    In addition, bio iso-butanol (a C-4 alcohol) is now being produced by several US firms and will become a commercial renewable bioalcohol fuel within the time frame of this legislation. Iso-butanol also has similar combustion properties to ethanol. Therefore, it should be included in the open fuel standard definition.

    Also, the terms “50 percent (or 75 percent) less fossil fuel per mile than the average of vehicles…” are used. While this language represents what appear to be clear objectives, without specifically including wording that would include the fossil fuel used to generate electricity for electric or plug-in-hybrids, these definitions would include vehicles that would in fact use much more fossil fuel than intended by the definition.

    In addition, for any vehicle or fuel definitions used in this legislation it must be very clear that the well-to-wheel energy and emissions requirements placed on biofuels are placed on them as well.

    In addition, the proposed definition of alcohol includes only ethanol and methanol. Iso-butanol needs to be added since it is now in the late stages of development and will be available for purchase within the timeframe of this legislation.

    There are a number of other items that could actually work against promotion and encouragement of development of home-grown, domestic renewable fuels. Sounds good on the surface, but a closer look reveals serious flaws.