Senator Tom Harkin will be voting “yes” on the energy bill when it comes up for a vote today (Friday) in the U.S. Senate. Harkin hails the bill’s move to promote the production of corn-based ethanol. Harkin says it means oil refiners will be required to blend seven-and-a-half billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by the year 2012. That’s more than twice the current rate, and significantly higher than what House members had wanted to do. “This is great news for farmers, bio-fuel’s producers, the rural economy in Iowa and I believe our national security,” Harkin says. He predicts construction of ethanol and biodiesel plants will soar. Harkin also praises the bill’s emphasis on promoting the “bio-economy.” Harkin says the legislation is a “green light” to research that seeks new ways to convert plants or commodities like corn into products that’ll replace petroleum-based products. Small, bio-based companies that’ll be eligible for new federal grants as well. Farmer-owned co-ops will be able to pass along tax credits to co-op members when the co-op erects a wind turbine. “So on balance it’s about a good a bill as we could get with this (Republican-led) congress and the (Bush) Administration,” Harkin says. “As always, there are some disappointments. We should have been more aggressive in promoting home-grown, renewable energy and conservation measures.” Harkin says it’s unfortunate that most of the bill’s tax benefits go to existing energy providers that rely on oil and coal. But he will vote “yes” on the bill.
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