Senate Bill Boosting Ethanol Gets August Recess, Not a Vote

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By Brian Dabbs

A committee vote on legislation to boost ethanol sales has been pushed until after the Senate’s August recess, the spokesman for the Environment and Public Works Committee said July 21.

The legislation (S. 517) would allow sales of transportation fuel containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) in the summer months, likely benefiting POET LLC, Archer Daniels Midland Co., and other ethanol producers. The committee had scheduled a vote for July 26, but the bill failed to garner enough support, the spokesman said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the former chairman of the committee, delivered a broadside against the bill on the Senate floor July 19, arguing the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuel mandate harms the fossil fuel industry and consumers. That mandate, known as the renewable fuel standard, requires biofuels be blended into gasoline.

Inhofe also indicated he would use the markup to offer amendments on a wide range of EPA and Interior Department regulations. “With all the problems with the RFS, it would be irresponsible of the Congress to give them this waiver without addressing the larger issues with the program,” Inhofe said.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), the bill’s sponsor, aimed for a vote only on the E15 bill.

Biofuel producers said they would still fight for it. “We will continue to work with our bipartisan sponsors to enact this bill to provide drivers across the country cleaner fuel options year-round,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration said July 21 the U.S. produced 5 percent more ethanol in 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at bdabbs@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

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