Tom Harkin - U.S. Seante

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised Senate passage of legislation expanding environmentally friendly renewable energy and sharply increasing use of home-grown energy sources. Harkin successfully pushed to include provisions expanding use of ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy in the final version of the bill. These renewable resources promise an improved outlook for the energy future of America while providing real benefits to Iowa’s economy and the nation’s environment.

“This bill will provide a boost for farmers, businesses and rural communities in Iowa and across the nation,” Harkin said. “We have finally taken steps to shift energy production away from the Middle East toward America’s heartland.”

The energy bill passed by the Senate today includes many provisions that will utilize largely untapped energy sources from rural America. Included in the bill are the following provisions:

Ø Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) of at least 7.5 billion gallons per year, doubling the use of ethanol and biodiesel in the country by 2012. Earlier this year, Harkin authored and introduced legislation, which the original Senate version of the bill adopted, establishing an eight-billion gallon standard. The House passed an RFS of five billion gallons a year and energy conferees agreed to a 7.5 billion gallon RFS. The RFS will create roughly 200,000 jobs in rural America, add nearly $200 billion to U.S. gross domestic product, and replace about two billion gallons of imported oil. It is estimated that the RFS will expand Iowa’s economy by approximately five percent.

Ø Biobased Products and Fuels: An amendment based on much of Harkin’s National Security and Bioenergy Investment Act of 2005 was successfully included in the energy bill. These portions of the bill provide funding to increase research, development and deployment of biobased fuels, chemicals and power.

Ø Renewable energy production tax credits expanding use of windpower and biodiesel. The wind power Production Tax Credit (PTC) will increase U.S. wind power production and create thousands of jobs while generating additional income for rural areas. The energy bill also extends the biodiesel tax credit for three additional years. Also adopted was a Harkin amendment enabling individual members of agricultural cooperatives to receive the PTC. Also included was a Harkin provision providing low interest loans for small businesses and farmers hurt by high energy costs.

“These measures ensure our farmers and rural businesses can get into the energy business and help meet our nation’s energy needs,” Harkin said. “That’s good news for our energy security, agriculture, environment and families who need affordable energy.”

Passage of the energy bill today comes after four years of gridlock over House proposals that would give protection to oil companies from lawsuits resulting from MTBE damage to drinking water supplies. The energy bill passed today does not give companies exemption from MTBE liability.

“To be sure, there was much more we could have done in this bill to promote clean renewable energy,” said Harkin. “On balance, however, this is a good bill, and takes important steps to develop home-grown energy sources.”

The energy bill passed by the Senate now heads to the President’s desk, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

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