NCGA disappointed energy bill put on hold

Senate Republicans and Democrats on the House-Senate energy bill conference decided the differences over substantial issues in the energy legislation were too deep to resolve in the remaining days of the 2002 Congressional session.

The RFS calls for gradually increasing ethanol production to five billion gallons per year by 2014. The bill had been in conference since July.

NCGA President and Plain City, Ohio, corn grower Fred Yoder said this historic agreement is not dead. "The RFS agreement that was reached among oil, ethanol, agriculture, clean-air advocates, and state air-quality agencies presented the Congress with a broadly-supported initiative that was good for our energy independence, rural economy, and the environment.

"We are committed to working with our allies who helped us reach this agreement and with our friends in Congress and in the White House to seek early action on legislation next year."

"The actions of the last month or so have been discouraging," said NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett, "and we were frustrated at times that the conferees could not come to an agreement on this issue and other energy-related issues in the 10 weeks the bill was in the conference committee.

"It's unfair to the American people that partisan politics is interfering with national security," he continued. "We continue to watch a volatile situation in the Middle East that not only affects our fuel supply, but the very safety of our nation. Yet we continue to pay Saddam Hussein $15 million a day for oil when we have a reliable, renewable fuel source in the cornfields across America. It just doesn't make sense."

Doggett stressed while NCGA would have liked to see the bill passed during the lame-duck session of the 107th Congress, he agrees with Yoder. "The bill is not dead, it's simply in stasis until next year," Doggett said. "Finishing the energy bill should be among the top priorities for the House next year."

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