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July 22, 2005   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
July 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congress soon will be considering a new energy bill that contains Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The Alabama Farmers Federation believes an 8-billion gallon RFS is a vital and necessary component of any meaningful energy policy and is urging members of the Alabama delegation to vote in favor of the Senate position on this issue.

The Senate bill includes an 8-billion gallon national RFS to be phased-in by 2012, beginning with a 4-billion gallon standard in 2006. This provision was adopted by an overwhelming 70-26 vote. Moreover, it phases-out the use of a harmful fuel additive, includes provisions that will preserve the air quality benefits of reformulated gasoline and provides significant new flexibility to refiners in the use of renewable fuels.

"With record gas prices and soaring energy imports, this is a time when the nation should be maximizing, not minimizing, the use of renewable fuels," said Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray. "The U.S. renewable fuel industry is poised to respond. Already, the U.S. ethanol industry has the capacity to produce more than 4 billion gallons of fuel, and 17 production facilities and three major expansions under construction will add an additional 900 million gallons of capacity within the year."

Gray said it's important to note that the Senate position on the RFS will encourage the investment and technological innovations needed to make production of ethanol from cellulose a commercial reality.

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing today to review agriculture's role in a renewable fuels standard.

"Renewable energy is a win-win for America's farmers and consumers. The growing market for ethanol, biodiesel and other homegrown energy sources is a great success story for American agriculture," said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).

The House Agriculture Committee also heard testimony about how renewable fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, are produced using numerous agricultural products including forestry, biomass and livestock waste.

Similar to the ethanol industry, the biodiesel industry also is undergoing rapid growth. The industry currently has the capacity to produce 30 million gallons, and with five plants under construction, will add another 100 million gallons of capacity.

"The Senate position on the RFS represents a historic opportunity to put the nation on a path of greater energy independence and national security," Gray said. "Increasing the amount of domestically produced renewable energy is supported by more than 25 national security leaders as a vital component of any strategy to reduce our foreign oil dependence."

Gray said in a recent letter to the President, security leaders urged the President to "launch a major new initiative to curtail U.S. consumption through improved efficiency and the rapid development and deployment of advanced biomass, alcohol and other available petroleum fuel alternatives."

In April, a poll conducted by Moore Information concluded that more than 74 percent of Americans support the 8-billion gallon RFS.

"Today's record-high gasoline prices are hurting consumers, and record petroleum imports are aggravating our trade imbalance and slowing economic growth," Gray said.

According to a recently released report by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the increased use of ethanol would help to reduce gasoline prices by as much as 8 cents a gallon. The Senate position on the RFS would maximize the production and use of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel to the benefit of consumers across the country.

"Congressmen who support the Senate RFS position can demonstrate their firm commitment to reducing our petroleum imports while encouraging economic growth through a domestic biofuels industry, helping lower consumer fuel prices and protecting the environment," Gray said. Further, the requirement of a Renewable Portfolio Standard will create an added incentive to develop technology that would meet the objections of those that claim that the RPS would create an added burden to consumers."

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