Impatient with Congressional progress on the energy bill passed by the Senate in June, US Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a bill to update immediately the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to require the production of 18 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2016, including 3 billion gallons of advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol.
The legislation will amend the Clean Air Act to implement the RFS requirements that were included in the Senate energy bill. However, negotiations between Senate and House on competing energy bills have stalled, and the new RFS has yet to take effect.
We need to increase domestic production of clean, renewable biofuels for national energy security. While the backbone of that industry has been, and continues to be ethanol from corn, we know we need to develop and commercialize biofuels made from cellulosic feedstocks as well. Our farm bill will support that advanced biofuels development. In the meantime, we also need to ensure steadily expanding markets for biofuels, markets that currently are being pinched by limited product distribution channels and consumer access. This new standard is precisely the bridge required to support the steadily expanding use of biofuels to replace more of the gasoline powering the vehicles on our highways.—Senator Harkin