Federal, state legislators boost biofuels

By | March 15, 2007
Federal and state policy-makers are jumping on the biofuels bandwagon. First, the Democrats included biofuels in their First 100-Hour Agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives, and then the governors of California and Illinois made moves to support biofuels as well, proving that biofuels are continuing to receive ample of support from government.

H.R. 6 redirects oil subsidies
The Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives included House bill H.R.6 in their First 100-Hour Agenda. The bill passed 264-163 and repealed several oil industry subsidies. H.R.6, if passed on the Senate side, would scrap nearly $6 billion in oil industry tax breaks, seek to recoup royalties lost due to an Interior Department error in leases issued in the late 1990s, and slap a conservation fee on oil and gas taken from the Gulf of Mexico.

House Energy Committee members said the measure could yield between $6 billion and $14 billion. The bill creates a separate account for the additional revenues from this act to be known as the Strategic Efficiency and Renewables Reserve. Funds from this reserve would accelerate the use of clean domestic renewable energy resources and alternative fuels; promote the utilization of energy-efficient products, practices and conservation; and increase research development and deployment of clean renewable energy and efficiency technologies.

California goes low-carb
In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order in mid-January establishing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels sold in the state. By 2020, the standard will reduce the carbon intensity of California's passenger-vehicle fuels by at least 10 percent. "California relies excessively on oil to meet its transportation needs," Schwarzenegger said. "That means our transportation fuels are responsible for more than 40 percent of California's greenhouse gas emissions."

The governor's office expects that the standard will more than triple the size of the state's renewable fuels market, add 7 million alternative-fuel vehicles to the roads and replace 20 percent of the state's on-road gasoline consumption with lower-carbon fuels.
The LCFS requires California fuel providers to meet a declining standard for greenhouse gas emissions. The standard will rely upon market-based mechanisms that allow providers to choose how they reduce emissions. Compliance flexibility will allow providers that are able to produce low-carbon fuels beyond the standard to bank the credits or sell them to providers that may not be able to meet the standard, which is effective no later then December 2008.

Illinois boosts state's green fleet
Illinois' new law that orders state vehicles to go green was unanimously approved in the General Assembly and signed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Jan. 12. The law goes further than the governor's executive order of 2004. State agencies are now required to buy flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on E85 or fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. New diesel-powered vehicles must run on B5.
The state fleet now consumes more than 8,100 gallons of E85 and more than 60,000 gallons of B5 each month.

The new legislation will boost the Illinois governor's plan to meet 50 percent of the state's transportation fuel needs with homegrown fuels by 2017.
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