In a bizarre twist of events, after drawn out debate over contentious amendments, the Senate passed last year’s energy bill and adjourned for the August recess. S. 14, the energy bill reported out of the Senate Energy Committee this year, was replaced with the energy bill passed overwhelmingly by the Senate in 2002. There were no major differences between the legislation concerning the RFS.

“It was a brilliant political strategy of Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to suggest substituting last year’s bill,” says NCGA President Fred Yoder. “It was true statesmanship of Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) to accept it.”

Domenici, chairman of the Senate energy committee, will chair the Senate-House conference committee, where the differences between the two chambers’ bills will be reconciled. The House passed its energy bill in April.

“Thursday’s passage is a historical step in the process of obtaining a comprehensive energy package that includes a 5-billion gallon RFS,” says Yoder. “While the NCGA is pleased with today’s outcome we will continue working toward getting a 5-billion gallon requirement by 2010, a goal for conference.”

Key renewable fuels provisions in the Senate bill include:

  • Reaching an RFS schedule of 5 billion gallons by 2012;
  • Federal ban on MTBE four years after the legislation becomes law;
  • Removing the current oxygenate standard for reformulated gasoline; and
  • Enhancing air quality anti-backsliding provisions.
Additionally, NCGA is optimistic the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) fix, and the Small Producer Tax Credit will be added in conference.

“This vote is a huge step toward energy independence,” Yoder says. “We truly appreciate all of the Senators for their hard work and for doing the right thing for the American people under unusual circumstances. We applaud the Senate for stepping up to the challenge and passing this critical policy.”