Bipartisan coalition of senators introduce bill to reduce dependence on foreign oil

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Legislation requires domestic production of 2 billion gallons of alternative diesel by 2015

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan coalition led by U.S. senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and Senate Clean Air Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) have introduced legislation that would decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil by requiring that 2 billion gallons of alternative diesel be produced domestically by 2015.

“We must continue down the path of reducing our reliance on foreign oil,” said Obama. “Like corn to ethanol for gasoline engines, we can make cleaner diesels from resources produced right here in America. We have the technology, we have the interest, and we have the need. We just need the federal commitment.”

“I am encouraged by the steps Congress is taking to look for ways to increase the production of alternative diesel,” Cochran said. “It is important that the United States invest in alternative sources of energy now to protect the future of our economy and national security.”

“Most of the world’s oil is concentrated in places that are either hostile to American interests or vulnerable to political upheaval and terrorism,” said Lugar. “To the extent that we remain reliant on imported oil, we imperil our nation’s economic health and our way of life. For years, I advocated for the Renewable Fuels Standard, and now ethanol production is outpacing those benchmarks. I strongly support an Alternative Diesel Standard and look forward to its success as well. Together, these standards will contribute to restoring our nation’s energy security.”

“Instead of buying oil from countries that might not have our best interests at heart, we need to invest in new types of alternative fuel technologies that we can make here at home,” said Carper. “This bill would bring us one step closer to turning our nation’s soybean fields into oil fields, while also stimulating the market for even more types of alternative fuels.”

Today, the biodiesel production capacity in the United States is an estimated 180 million gallons. Fifty-four companies have reported their plans to construct dedicated biodiesel plants in the near future, but those plans are dependent on regional and national demand prospects. In addition, researchers like University of Illinois scientist Yuanhui Zhan have developed techniques to turn swine manure into diesels, and others at the University of Arkansas have successfully explored using chicken fat as fuel substitutes. An Alternative Diesel Standard would ensure that these new technologies have a central role in our national energy policy, encouraging greater investment in domestic fuel production capacity to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

This bipartisan legislation creates an Alternative Diesel Standard, which would require that 2 billion gallons of diesel alternatives be mixed into the 40 billion-gallon diesel pool by 2015. The bill is modeled after the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), an initiative that passed the Senate in 2005 and requires that the national gasoline supply consist of at least 7.5 billion gallons of home-grown ethanol by 2012.

Petrodiesel is used in a variety of transportation modes: transit buses; semi trucks; ships; heavy-duty construction; military vehicles; locomotives; barges; large-scale generators; farm and mining equipment; and in some cars and light trucks.

From the July 12-18, 2006, issue

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