By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Nov. 12 – With Congress resuming business in a lame duck session which starts Monday, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is leading a bipartisan group of senators urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to include provisions aimed at expanding biofuels markets in energy legislation pending in the Senate. Additionally, the senators asked that Leader Reid consider legislation to extend the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) beyond its Dec. 31 expiration date.

In their letter, the senators point out that these steps are crucial to reducing the nation’s dependence of foreign petroleum, creating jobs in the U.S. and addressing the issue of climate change. It is estimated that the enactment of these policies will enable as much as a five-fold increase in biofuels’ displacement of oil-based fuel use in transportation within the next two decades. Joining Harkin in signing the letter are Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The senators wrote Reid that “One of our most pressing energy issues is our continued dependence on imported petroleum for fueling our transportation systems. On this issue, we are encouraged by the progress that is being made by vehicle efficiency gains and by the increasing contributions from domestic biofuels. However, we are also deeply concerned that continued expansion of biofuels is being constrained by marketplace limitations. We therefore urge you to include biofuels market expansion provisions addressing these barriers in energy legislation considered by the Senate.”

As the former chair and now senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Harkin has been a long-time leader in promoting the production and use of biofuels as an important part of the nation’s energy strategy. Recent Harkin initiatives and actions aimed at promoting biofuels include:

  • On August 4, Harkin led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing an amendment to the pending energy bill to expand the U.S. biofuels market by increasing the percentage of vehicles manufactured for sale in the U.S. that are flex-fuel capable; increasing the number of blender pumps at refueling stations so more consumers can buy fuels with higher percentages of ethanol; and authorizing loan guarantees for renewable fuel pipelines. For details, go to:

  • On August 2, Harkin convened a meeting between a bipartisan group of senators and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman to urge prompt approval of E15 ethanol blend for use in all gasoline-fueled vehicles. At the meeting, Harkin urged the approval of E-15, as well as E-20, which EPA is also reviewing. For details, go to:

  • On June 28, Harkin and six other senators wrote to President Obama urging his administration to move rapidly to integrate biofuels into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. In the letter, the senators expressed concern that the Department of Energy (DOE) had not yet completed testing of higher blends of ethanol in gasoline, which would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the use of gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. For details, go to:

  • On June 23, Harkin spoke on the Senate floor expressing his disappointment in EPA's and DOE’s delays in making a decision on E-15 and calling for an end to the delay. For details and a link to the audio, go to:

To read the letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid from Sens. Harkin, Bond, Johnson and Klobuchar, go to:

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