Energy bill coming down to wire

The energy bill, which has been stalled in conference since late June, has dimming hope for passing as a final bill with the inclusion of many of its significant original provisions. Conferees to the legislation have been unable to strike an agreement on any of the bill's top-tier components, which include a liability waiver to methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in the RFS provision, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling (ANWR), and the electric title. Without agreement on any of these vital issues, the bill could die when Congress adjourns for the year.

According to NCGA, conferees are hung up on granting a liability waiver to MTBE manufacturers, a condition that is unacceptable to Senate leadership. The MTBE liability waiver could make or break an opportunity to obtain a national RFS this year.

"Senate leadership has said it will not vote for a final bill that includes an MTBE liability waiver," said NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett.

"NCGA members need to place urgent calls to their House Republican members," continued Doggett. "Congress needs to hear that the RFS is in trouble because of the MTBE liability waiver. We need it out of the House proposal."

The House and Senate have already agreed to language that would provide transitional assistance to MTBE manufacturers. Conferees have also agreed to phase out MTBE over four years.

Additionally, the current proposal under consideration delays the start of the RFS until 2005, but keeps in place the oxygenate standard in place until then, thus allowing additional demand for MTBE in those states where it is not banned.

"We are down to the wire on the energy bill," said Doggett. "If the MTBE liability waiver is in the final package, it is very unlikely that the Senate will pass the bill. The House needs to drop the MTBE liability waiver."

Corn growers and other renewable fuels supporters can contact their Congressmen by clicking on the Action Alert at

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