The U.S. Senate is debating the energy bill and Iowan Tom Harkin says a key amendment approved will up the ethanol requirements. Harkin is one of the sponsors of the amendment. He says oil refiners will have to blend eight billion gallons of ethanol and or biodiesel by the year 2012. Harkin, a democrat says the bill benefits Iowa and other Midwestern states. He says it’ll mean new markets for farmers and rural businesses and as much as two to 300-thousand new jobs for rural America. Harkin says Iowa is well placed to benefit. He says as Iowa is the number one producer of ethanol, we’ll stay in the lead. Harkin says the House energy bill has a lower ethanol standard and he hopes the Senate bill wins out when the two sides meet to work out the differences. Senator Chuck Grassley says he expects the Senate will finish work on the energy bill by tonight (Thursday) or Friday. The energy bill has been stalled in Congress since 2003 but the Iowa Republican says he thinks high gas prices are driving progress now. Grassley says while there have been periods of high gas prices in the past, it’s gone on longer than ever this time. One of the sticking points has been the insistence that makers of a fuel additive called M-T-B-E, which has been found polluting water, be shielded from lawsuits. Grassley says that demand is the major element that killed the energy bill two years ago. Grassley says he doesn’t necessarily back their argument, but they are correct in saying that under the 1990 Clean Air Act, both ethanol and M-T-B-E were legal products manufactured for cities that were required to add one or the other to their gasoline blends to clean up smog. At the time nobody knew M-T-B-E didn’t break down and would be found contaminating water supplies for years. Grassley says the Senate won’t pass a bill with the M-T-B-E exemption, and the house won’t approve a bill without it — so he’s not sure how they’ll reach a compromise.