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Public Statements

Amendment NO. 4380

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BUNNING. Mr. President, I rise to speak in morning business on my amendment to the extenders package, Bunning amendment No. 4380.

First, let me explain why this amendment is needed. When the Senate passed the first version of the extenders package in March, the bill extended all parts of the alternative fuel credit that expired at the end of last year. This included the coal-to-liquids portion of the alternative fuel credit.

I was pleased to hear President Obama mention coal to liquids as an important part of our energy strategy in his State of the Union Address earlier this year. That is why I am surprised to see coal to liquids deliberately excluded from the extenders package, first in the Reid substitute and again in the Baucus substitute.

Let me be clear: The bill doesn't just omit or remain silent on the coal-to-liquids credit. This bill specifically says that the coal-to-liquids credit expired on December 31, 2009, and isn't renewed. That is in the bill.

My colleagues probably know that I have many problems with the underlying bill. It adds tens of billions to our national debt and it contains job-killing tax increases. Options to pay fully for this bill by cutting spending have been offered and rejected, so our children and my grandchildren will foot the bill. But I thought that one element both parties could agree on is that expired tax provisions that taxpayers count on--and have been extended routinely in the past--should be extended.

My amendment is simple: It ensures that the coal-to-liquids portion of the alternative fuel credit will be extended until the end of the year, just like the other expiring parts of the alternative fuel credits included in this bill. The Senate already voted to extend all parts of the alternative fuel credit when it passed the extenders package last March.

Many difficult innovative fuels qualify for the alternative fuel credit, but coal to liquids is the only one that specifically requires reduced emissions. The reduction was originally 50 percent but was raised to 75 percent last year as a bipartisan agreement. I do not understand why the extenders package fails to extend the only part of the alternative fuel credit that called for reduced emissions.

My colleagues who are deficit hawks will be glad to know that this amendment will not add one dime to the deficit. This is because no coal-to-liquids projects will come on line in 2010, so no tax credit will be received. However, if the credit is allowed to remain expired and is not renewed, this will have a very damaging effect on investments in this extremely promising technology.

My amendment is also bipartisan. I am grateful to Senators ROCKEFELLER, BYRD, and ENZI, who are cosponsors. I know that the Senator from Montana, who is the manager of the extenders package and the chairman of the Finance Committee, is familiar with the coal to liquids because of its potential benefit to his home State.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record an article from the Billings Gazette entitled ``Crow Coal-To-Liquids Plant Could Be Boon for Montana,'' at the conclusion of my remarks.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See exhibit 1.)

Mr. BUNNING. The article describes the efforts of the Crow Nation to build a coal-to-liquids plant on a reservation in Montana in one of the poorest counties in the entire Nation. The project will be designed with carbon capture and storage. The Crow Nation hopes to begin producing the fuel 6 years from now, but losing the benefit of the alternative fuel credit would be a serious setback. The tribe is already hearing about investors who are now reluctant to invest in the project because of the uncertainty around coal to liquids.

Because the Senator from Montana has a reputation for fighting to keep jobs in his home State, I hope he will support the Crow Nation's request to extend the coal-to- liquids credit in the extenders package.

Failing to extend the credit has the potential to destroy thousands of jobs that are planned in an extremely poor county in Montana.

This is not something that can wait for a yet-to-be determined energy bill. Almost all of the alternative fuel credit is already contained in the extenders package.

It makes no sense to specifically exclude parts of the alternative fuel credit in this bill, with the promise that it will be looked at later. It will only become more difficult, the longer the credit is expired.

It will only make extending coal-to-liquids that much harder if it is delayed to a bill that has not been written yet and will probably be filled with controversial items.

I am certain the Senator from Montana understands the political reality that the extenders package is the last best opportunity to extend a provision that is very important to his home State.

I hope the Senator from Montana will support the Bunning-Rockefeller-Byrd-Enzi amendment and include it in any new substitute he introduces to the extenders package.

Coal-to-liquids is an important part of our national energy strategy. President Obama has recognized this in his State of the Union Address.

We will never end our dependence on foreign oil until we develop alternative sources of fuel.

Coal is abundant and it is here in America. It is not owned and used as leverage against us by hostile nations.

American coal can be used in a way that both reduces emissions and fuels our energy needs.

It would be a tragic mistake to turn our backs on coal-to-liquids when it is a crucial part of America's strategy to end our dependence on foreign oil.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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