Obama Says Energy Bill Helps Illinois by Doubling Ethanol Use, Investing in Clean Coal
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama Friday voted in favor of the comprehensive energy bill, saying it will help Illinois and start America down the path to energy independence by doubling ethanol use, greatly increasing the availability of E85 ethanol pumps, and investing in combination plug-in hybrid and flexible-fuel vehicles, as well as clean-coal technology. However, he warned that bolder action is required if lawmakers are really serious about dealing with the high energy costs that are plaguing American consumers.
"This bill, while far from a solution, is a first step toward decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil," said Obama. "It requires that 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol be mixed with gasoline by 2012. That's 7.5 billion gallons of fuel that will be grown in the corn fields of Illinois, and not imported from the deserts of the Middle East. The bill will also help triple the number of E85 ethanol fueling stations in the next year by providing a tax credit for their construction. This will help the millions of people who already drive flexible-fuel vehicles to fill their tanks with fuel made from 85 percent ethanol that is 50 cents cheaper than regular gasoline."
"I am also pleased that the bill includes funding I requested for research into combination plug-in hybrid and flexible fuel vehicles that could travel up to 500 miles per gallon of gasoline, as well as more investment into clean-coal technology."
The Energy bill will do the following:
- Create a Renewable Fuels Standard that will nearly double the amount of ethanol used by 2012.
- Provide up to a $30,000 tax credit for the construction of E85 ethanol fueling stations.
- Provide a $1.8 billion tax credit for investments in clean-coal facilities.
- Provide $85 million to Southern Illinois University, Purdue University, and the University of Kentucky for research and testing on developing Illinois basin coal into transportation fuels.
- Provide $40 million for research on combined plug-in hybrid and E85 flexible fuel vehicles that have the potential to drive 500 miles per gallon of gasoline used.
- Provide incentives to promote biofuels from agricultural resources.
While voting for the bill, the Illinois Senator also said he believes that the legislation still falls short of what could and should be done to put America on the path to energy independence.
"Although this a step forward, it's not a very big step," said Obama. "The Department of Energy predicts that American demand will jump by 50 percent over the next 15 years. Meanwhile, the conservative Heritage Foundation says this bill will do virtually nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And it won't reduce the price of gasoline paid by hardworking Americans. Even President Bush and supporters of the bill in Congress concede as much."
"We could have done more today, and we should do more in the future. We must accept and embrace the challenge of finding a solution to our dependence on foreign oil as one of the most pressing problems of our time. It won't be easy and it won't be without sacrifice, but we owe it to ourselves and to our children so that we can bring down gas prices, protect our environment, and strengthen our national security. This should be one of our top priorities in America."
"So, I vote for this bill reluctantly today, disappointed that we have missed our opportunity to do something bolder that would have put us on the path to energy independence. This bill should be the first step, not the last, in our journey towards energy independence."