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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. OBAMA (for himself, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Lugar, and Mr. Carper):

S. 3554. A bill to establish an alternative diesel standard, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am pleased to be joined by my distinguished colleagues, the Senator from Mississippi, Mr. Cochran, the Senator from Indiana, Mr. Lugar, and the Senator from Delaware, Mr. Carper, in introducing the Alternative Diesel Standard Act of 2006.

Last summer, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which included a bold, bipartisan initiative to help wean our Nation from its petroleum dependency. This initiative, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, established that it is the policy of the United States that the 140 billion gallon national gasoline pool will consist of at least 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by the year 2012.

We have seen tremendous response to this new policy. Almost 30 new ethanol plants have been proposed to be constructed in my State of Illinois alone, and many more are proposed nationwide. By comparison, over the past 30 years, no new petroleum refineries have been built in the United States. The Renewable Fuels Standard is probably one of the single most important legislative actions taken by Congress in recent years to strengthen our domestic energy security, and the legislation we introduce today takes this policy one step further by addressing the 40 billion gallon national diesel pool.

Petroleum-based diesel is used in a wide variety of transportation modes: transit buses; semitrucks; ships; heavy duty construction, farming and mining equipment; military vehicles; locomotives; barges; large scale generators; and in a range of cars and trucks. While not as large of a market as gasoline, petrodiesel is enormously significant to our economy, and reducing our reliance on foreign feedstocks for this diesel is of equal importance in our efforts to increase energy security.

Our bill, the Alternative Diesel Standard, simply requires that by the year 2015, the national diesel pool must consist of at least 2 billion gallons of alternative and renewable diesels.

This is but a modest 1 percent of the national diesel supply--hardly painful for the petroleum industry. It would not in any way dent the oil industry's record-shattering profits. Instead, it establishes certainty to those who know that alternative diesels can provide a real solution to our dependence on foreign oil and who are prepared to invest in alternative diesel production on a commercial scale.

Right now, there is an estimated 180 million gallons of biodiesel production capacity in the United States. Fifty-four companies have reported plans to construct dedicated biodiesel plants in the near future, but those plans are dependent upon regional and national demand prospects.

Moreover, entrepreneurs across the Nation have proven that we can make diesel from other plant oils, like sunflower seeds, or coal, manure, animal fats, and yes, even from recycled plastics or garbage. This bill sends a signal to those entrepreneurs that a market is planned in the future for these domestically produced fuels, attracting the necessary investment to establish a national infrastructure of domestic fuel production capabilities.

If we are serious about reducing our country's dependence on imported petroleum and insulating our economy from future supply disruption shocks--whether from the volatile Middle East or natural disasters such as Katrina--encouraging the construction of more domestic alternative fuel production capacity must be part of that strategy. Several billion gallons of alternative diesels are possible within the timelines proposed in our legislation, making another bold step to create jobs in rural America and strengthen our economic security. An Alternative Diesel Standard is the right course for the Nation's future. I hope my colleagues will join me in cosponsoring this legislation, and I ask their support for swift enactment.

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