Washington, D.C.-By a vote of 67 to 29, the Senate today passed the Renewable Fuels Act (S. 791) as an amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2003. S. 791 was cosponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety, and Sen. James Talent (R-Mo.).
The bipartisan amendment, which was cleared by the Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee in March, establishes a renewable fuels mandate requiring refineries to blend 5 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline over the next decade and phases out the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether.
By voice vote, the Senate also approved a second-degree amendment to the fuels package to encourage ethanol made from agricultural residue, or cellulosic biomass.
“Developing alternative fuels domestically is critical to national security,” Chairman Inhofe said. “The Senate did the right thing today by passing a renewable fuels mandate, which will help the United States reduce its dependence on foreign sources of oil.
“This amendment is a reasonable compromise, but as it moves through the legislative process, I hope we can address some important issues associated with it,” Inhofe continued. “First, we need to ensure that small refiners are not unduly burdened by the ethanol mandate. The impact assistance for small refiners in S. 791 must be part of the final package.
“Also, over time, we should evaluate closely how this mandate impacts gasoline prices for consumers and monitor how it impacts the Highway Trust Fund. And as a matter of fairness, we should consider safe harbors for congressionally mandated products, such as MTBE.