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Leaders of Senate Energy Committee Introduce Biofuels Bill: 36 Billion Gallons by 2022

US Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced legislation that increases the required renewable fuel standard from 8.5 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022.

The “Biofuels for Energy Security and Transportation Act of 2007” (S.987) requires an increasing portion of the renewable fuels consumed from 2016 to 2022 to be advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol and other fuels derived from unconventional biomass feedstocks.

The bill supports the development of advanced biofuels by increasing Department of Energy funding for bioenergy research and development by 50% over fiscal years 2007 to 2009. This increased funding will allow for the establishment of seven bioenergy research centers throughout the country and will also establish grants for research in renewable technologies in states with low rates of ethanol production.

S.987 promotes investment in renewable fuel infrastructure by authorizing federal loan guarantees for advanced renewable fuel facilities, as well as grants to states to establish renewable fuels corridors and means to transport biomass to biorefineries.

Bingaman and Domenici expect to hold a hearing on their legislation next month.

The Senators’ proposal is of the same magnitude as the “20 in 10” proposal floated by President Bush in the State of the Union address this year, but with a five-year extension. The President had called for 35 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2017. (Earlier post.)

Earlier, the two Senators had introduced a bill (S. 962) that amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to provide $315 million to improve the carbon capture and storage research, development and demonstration program of the US Department of Energy.

The “DOE Carbon Capture and Storage Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 2007” would complement a bill introduced by Sens. Salazar—S.731, the National Carbon Dioxide Storage Capacity Assessment Act of 2007—to build on DOE’s regional carbon sequestration partnerships.

The Energy Committee will hold a legislative hearing on the two carbon sequestration bills in the near future, both to examine their specific provisions and to hear from experts what other steps we should be taking here in the Senate to advance the technology and utilization of carbon sequestration.



Well that will help put a floor under the price of corn, and the cost of food, the income of mid west farmers and the price ADM and farms, boost the sales of agro chemicals and farm machinery etc.,

Smart move.



Corn is absolutely the wrong fuel for biodiesel. Hopefully the R&D element of this will enable technologies to get biodiesel from switchgrass, willow and perhaps even algae.

That still puts a requirement on land of course, and a lot of corn farmers might move over to switchgrass. The trouble now is that a combination of tradition and subsidies is pushing corn (and sunflower in Europe) to the fore.


read in "the observer" last weekend that the orang utan will become extinct in the wild by 2012 ,and the reason , the worlds demand for biodiesel , huge areas of its habitat are being stripped to make way for huge palm oil plantations , it seems that this loathsome plant is one of the most efficient ways of producing biodiesel, owners
of these plantations are paying workers 10 dollars for each urang utan clubbed to death !
Maybe it would be a nice gesture if one of the big three named their next gas swilling SUV after this remarkable creature, lest we forget !



It is disgusting to see jungle cleared for whatever reason, but there are plenty of populated tropical and semi-tropical places oil palm could be being grown.

And certainly it would be a welcome change if auto and truck mfgs offered say 30% smaller/more efficient engine options in their blunderbuses. Do we all really need crew-cab duallys pulling trailers doin 80?


More legislative wanking.  Our real problem isn't lack of renewable fuels (or pseudo-renewable ones, like ethanol from corn), it's too much consumption of liquid fuels period.  Substitution of electricity for liquids would do far more than using tax money to help make more liquids.


All of you guys make too much sense regarding the environmental issues. But the orangutans have no representation in Congress. They don't contribute to political campaigns.

The auto industry powerhouse (UAW, GM, Ford, and Chrysler -- ranked in order of their political power) has married the ethanol/farm lobby. They are doing a hugh sell job to Americans, essentially saying you can have your cake and eat it too. No higher CAFE standards or gas taxes are needed. We'll just grow our fuel. Rainforests? What rainforests?

Bob Bastard

Andrichrose, I agree with most of the sentiment of your post, however, you might want to check your facts regarding the driving force behind demand for Palm based biodiesel. You'll find that the vast majority of demand is not coming from products built in Detroit. As much as I dislike the petroleum hogs that the Big 3 have been defecating out on us each year, this is one issue that is unfair to blame on them.


The goal is 2, 348, 336.59 million barrels of ethanol a day which is approximately 11.7 percent of our current, not to say future consumption level. The article did not say how much farm land or how much corn this would divert from food to fuel. My guess is that it is massive and way out of proportion to the benefit derived. And it also doesn't say what the net contribution of this fuel is, not just the gross contribution. This is jokingly called the Energy Security Act. Security for whom? Security for farmers and for ADM, etc. Who knows? Maybe that is a worthwhile goal, depending upon whether you are a consumer or a producer. But they really should change the name of the act to make it clear whose security is being increased.

It can't be emphasized enough that ethanol and flex fuel is a way for auto companies to make a total mockery of our existing, inadequate CAFE standards. The auto companies don't have to do anything other than spend a paltry sum to make their vehicles ethanol ready. The American people will have to step up, however, but they don't know it yet.

So called unconventional biomass may help the situation, but this is by no means proven to be econonomical or even sustainable on a long term basis. Just because we have grasses out there in the prairie which currently grow without the energy,pesticide, and herbicide inputs that currently apply to corn doesn't mean that, over time, they won't become part of the conventional and energy intensive agricultural system.

Again, we need to fashion legislation that sets goals like greenhouse emissions reduction, not the subsidation of specific technology. While, for example, I drive a Prius, and appreciate the tax credits I received, I shouldn't be rewarded for buying a hybrid per se, but I should be rewarded for buying a vehicle with good gas mileage. There are hybrid vehicles out there with mpg approaching 25 mpg that are getting subsidies. And don't get me started on the business tax breaks for vehicles which get close to 10 mpg.

The planet, however, like the orangutan, doesn't vote. Corn farmers vote and provide campaign contributions. Corn processors vote and provide campaign contributions. I would like to think that the Democrats will improve the situation and there are some bills circulating in congress that show some promise. Thus far, however, the pudding produced by the Dems is not much better than the pudding than the Republicans.



I agree. I would say that balancing an energy budget is something like balancing a fiscal budget, you have to work on both the supply AND demand sides if you want to get there sooner. Both the supply of fuel and the demand of SUVs must be worked on to have any meaningful progress in a decent time frame.


Not to worry. As those outside Detroit and Washington begin to offer real alternatives (Tesla, et al), consumers will vote with their wallets. Farm real estate will go through another boom bust cycle, and congess will pass some other subsidy.


Further to the palm oil comments above. It's worth reading this article:,,2043727,00.html


I have observed there is a lot of blame going to the automakers for building gargantuan gas guzzling beasts. While I too believe that they have a part in it, I also believe that they are only trying to build what they believe customers want. Let's face it, the US has a "bigger is better" mentality. Who really needs a new Camry with a 269 HP V-6? But horsepower, along with sub-10 second 0-60 times seem to capture the "romance" of driving an automobile. Change what's important to the consumer, and you will change the what is built.


They would be better off with mandating a 12% increase in fuel economy across the board.
If they have till 2022, it should be easy.


I think it was 60 minutes that asked the car companies who started the SUV craze. The car companies claimed they were just providing what the customer wanted, but some investigation showed that they were promoting SUV for many years before they caught on, because there were higher profits to be made.


Ironically, CAFE standards made Detroit steer away from station wagons as a family vehicle, and light trucks weren't covered by CAFE. So Ford led the way to SUV nirvana with the Exploder, ... errr, Explorer.

Detroit wanted to sell large vehicles because the Japanese companies had no home market for them. So the Big 3.5 (UAW, GM, Ford, and Chrysler) found a way to avoid competing with Toyota and Honda for over 10 years. Now Toyota makes hugh profits on Land Cruisers -- way more than for the Prius. Those profits are funding R&D for cars and hybrids, putting Detroit further behind and even more dependent on large vehicles.

Detroit's answer? Join the ethanol bandwagon. But Toyota SUVs can run on ethanol too. Eventually Detroit will have to commit themselves to making good cars -- just not yet.


US requirements of biofuels are a death certificate not only for malaysian orangutans but also for amazonian forest and its wildlife.Remember the last trip of George W. to Brazil and the deals they had signed.
Biofuel could be an strategic paliative in the energy crisis but only associated with strong reductions in fuel consumes and respect to nature.


It’s time to stop blaming the USA for all bad economic and environmental policies of other nations. Cars companies in the USA already sell high mileage cars, so stop crying about it. With the higher gas prices during the last few years, the public has already started buying more fuel economy cars and fewer SUVs. The USA needs an alternative fuel source beside oil and bio-fuels will be part of the answer. As reported here on this site, the government is handing out R & D money for other bio-fuel research; it’s just going to take time to develop this technology. I doubt anyone wants to find out what the effects would be on you and our nation if our oil imports got cut off for some reason?

Jon Abbott

Here is my email to Senator Bingaman:

Dear Senator Bingaman,

I wanted to send my thanks to you and Senator Domenici for submitting the Biofuels for Energy Security and Transportation Act of 2007 bill. I strongly believe that energy independence is the way forward for our country by promoting a better environment, strengthening national security, and increasing opportunities for biofuel producers and refiners. I have a question regarding the bill that relates to the types of biofuel to be produced. The fuels mentioned in the bill are inherently liquid-based, i.e. cellulosic ethanol and biobutanol. Is there consideration given towards solid or gas-based alternative biofuel sources? I have heard of biohydrogen fuel sources that can be either gaseous or encased in a lithium solid. Electric-based alternatives could be a mixture of solid, liquid or gas. Being that these types of fuels are not counted in gallons, I am concerned that the bill may not be encouraging innovation among these and other types of alternative biofuels. Please let me know if these fuels are addressed in your recent bill or if other bills are being drafted that would include them.

Thank you very much,
Jon Abbott


"advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol and other fuels derived from unconventional biomass feedstocks."


Presumably this legislation will include fuel from Fischer-Tropsch processing of landfill and sewage. Nothing says it must be liquid fuel. The legislation pushes the goal set by Bush back five years - making one wonder just how eco-friendly this Congress really is?

This step along with the roll-out of BEV, PHEVs 12 years in advance of the target date, increased CAFE standards, higher fuel costs and consumer demand for higher MPG, becomes a part of the transition to EV transportation ahead.

If biodiesel is to become the heavy lifting fuel of the future it will have to come from a feedstock such as algae. It is pointless to complain about oilseed feedstocks such as palm without acknowledging the far lower destructive impact and higher yield potential of this curiously under-trumpeted alternative. How about $315M in free market grants for oceanic algal oil???


US drive for biofuels has nothing to do with orangutangs, Brazilian, Malasyan, or Indonesian rainforests and wildlife. All legislation is aimed to DOMESTIC agricultural and waste-to-fuel production (growing, not merely refining or consuming) of biofuels, whatever the price or economy.

Current clear-and-burn of rainforest, which is way more destructive than any projected effects of AGW, is driven by EU policy to consume biofuels grown elsewhere in the world.

So, guys, point your anger accordingly.


Andrey 36 billion gallons of biofuels represents around 20% of current US petrol and diesel consumption. Can the US could produce that amount domestically? Can anyone point us to any studies of the biofuel carrying capacity of the US or Europe? Bush has been courting Brazil lately:

so chances are a goodly chunk will come from there. This headlong march towards biofuels could have serious environmental not to mention social consequences given the squeeze on food prices which is being experienced in the developing world:


Its called the billion ton study.


thank you sir.



You are absolutely right, there are zero chances that food-to-fuel will substitute 20% US gasoline consumption. It could be done (not yet for sure) only by conversion of wood, grass, and agricultural waste biomass to fuel.

As for spike in tortillas prices in Mexico, it was result of local speculations. Mexican government already addressed the issue. For Mexican corn farmers stable and higher prices for corn is a godsend. Take a look at this article:

US 51c per gallon tariff for Brazilian ethanol stays intact.


Some of the developing world has started to cry foul in the food/fuel debate. Expect to see more of that in the near future.

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