Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate is debating an energy package this week that aims to decrease gas prices and save the environment but according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the bill comes up empty. Enzi is working to increase refinery capacity, decrease the effects of federal mandates in the bill and bring Wyoming’s coal to the world.
"As I read the bill I thought I was missing something. But I wasn’t. It’s the bill that is missing major components. There is no mention of increasing refinery capacity. We cannot lower the price of gas and stop depending on foreign oil without increasing our refinery capacity at home. In the U.S., no new refinery has been built since 1976," said Enzi.
Refining Capacity Increase and Coal-to-Liquids
Enzi supported an amendment to the bill called the Gas PRICE Act, amendment # 1505, that is designed to improve the permit process for the expansion of existing refining facilities as well as expand the option of constructing new domestic fuel facilities. The amendment would encourage and fund the development of coal-to-liquids and cellulosic biomass ethanol.
"In order to decrease dependence on foreign oil this country must embrace coal-to-liquids technology, which is also notably absent in the bill. I hope to change that omission. Senator Thomas worked hard to move this issue forward and an energy bill wouldn’t be an energy bill if it didn’t address this promising new technology."
The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 43-52.
Enzi was disappointed to learn the bill requires the combined Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for new cars and light trucks to be increased to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
"This bill has standards, mandates and subsidies as far as the eye can see," said Enzi. "I agree with the use of more renewable energy but there needs to be a transition period and market forces are the best way to spur this transition, not the federal government."
Enzi plans to introduce several amendments to the bill in Senator Thomas’ stead, one of which would help ranchers offset costs related to growing federal mandates and clarifies that they should receive relief from increasing prices. Right now a federal mandate of 7.5 billion gallons exists for renewable fuels derived from sources such as corn. The current bill proposes to raise that mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022. With the mandated demand for corn increasing, producers who use corn for livestock feed are left with increased prices.
Amendments to the energy bill are being considered and floor debate is expected to continue through the week. The House passed its version of the energy bill, H.R. 6, by a vote of 264-163 on Jan. 18, 2007.