A group of U.S. Senators has introduced legislation aimed at expanding markets for biofuels, citing the fact that the United States imports 60% of the petroleum it consumes, making it vulnerable to disruptions in its supply. The bill will increase the number of flex-fuel vehicles on the road, increase the number of blender pumps dispensing biofuels and authorize loan guarantees for the construction of renewable fuel pipelines.
The bill would mandate that 50% of the vehicles manufactured for sale in the U.S. would be flex-fuel capable in 2014 and 2015. That number would rise to 90% in 2016 and beyond. Electric cars would be exempt. Also, the bill would require major fuel distributors to install at least one blender pump at an increasing number of the refueling stations which they own or through which they market; provides grants for the ethanol blending infrastructure; and authorizes loan guarantees for loans covering 80% of project costs for renewable fuel pipelines.
Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and one of the bills writers, says the country is vulnerable to disruptions in the supply of petroleum and the economy faces a constant threat from volatile oil prices. Harkin says biofuels displace close to 10% of our gasoline supplies, and they have the potential to make significantly larger contributions. Co-sponsors are Senators Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Al Franken, D-Minn.