Senate energy bill missing key biofuels safeguards

While the excitement about the Senate's passage of a bill that would finally increase vehicle fuel economy performance (the last time the Senate did this was 1975!!!) is absolutely warranted, we should not loose sight of the bill significant shortcomings in other areas. On biofuels, the bill would increase the renewable fuel standard to 36 billion gallons by 2022, but in the end the Senate failed to include provisions that would have ensured that the fuels produced provided meaning reductions in global warming pollution.

Our legislative director, Karen Wayland reports:

Senate leadership decided to move quickly to pass the bill to prevent opponents from having time to develop a new amendment that would undermine the successful vote on CAFE earlier this evening. Only amendments that could pass by unanimous consent were added to the bill. There were no votes on amendments after the CAFE vote. This means that the two outstanding biofuels amendments on global warming that we had hoped would pass tonight never saw a vote because they encountered objections. We are already working to make sure that environmental safeguards are included in the House energy bill, and we need to develop a longer term strategy for maximizing the environmental potential of biofuels.

Jim Presswood, NRDC's legislative advocate on energy worked tirelessly with many other environmental groups and won passage of the two biofuels amendments in an earlier version of the bill, so to see them dropped at the last minute to ensure CAFE's passage is particularly bitter sweet.

So one major step forward on CAFE, one ambiguous step (forward, backwards, sideways?) on biofuels, and we live to fight another day. Hopefully the House bill will make improvements. Then there's the conference between the House and Senate, and the next bill and the next bill and the next bill... NRDC isn't going anywhere.

About the Authors

Nathanael Greene

Senior Renewable Energy Advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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