“Biofuels have the momentum”: US Senate votes 54-41 to clear Navy’s path to affordable, advanced biofuels capacity
In Washington, the US Senate voted 54-41 in favor of an amendment offered by Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina to repeal section 2823 of the annual Defense appropriations bill.
Sec. 2823 of the FY13 NDAA (S. 3524) would have prohibited the Secretary of Defense or any other official from the Department of Defense (DoD) from entering into a contract to plan, design, refurbish, or construct a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless such planning, design, refurbishment, or construction is specifically authorized by law.
The Committee-passed annual Defense Authorization bill would have blocked efforts to develop a commercial supply of cost-competitive advanced biofuels as detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Udall and Hagan amendments
In the case of the Udall Amendment, observers noted that the provisions still have to survive a House-Senate conference on the Defense Bill, because the House passed a provision similar to the language that was deleted by the Udall Amendment. However, the House did not pass a provision similar to the provision deleted by the Hagan amendment. “On that provision, we’re done,” noted Mike McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association.
On the overall impact of the two votes, McAdams added, “Today’s vote was loud and clear,” said Mike McAdams. “The Senate once again backed our nation’s military which considers advanced biofuels as an essential tool for our national security and energy independence.”
The bill gained support from Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who earlier in the week had opposed an amendment offered by Senator Mark Udall of Colorado to repeal section 313 of the annual Defense appropriations bill. Section 313 language, which was offered by Senator Inhofe and adopted in Committee, prohibits DOD from procuring alternative fuels if they cost more than their conventional counterparts.
Five Republicans who had voted for the Udall Amendment, opposed the Hagan amendment – Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snow of Maine, and John Thune of South Dakota.
Two Democrats, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Claire McCaskill of Missouri did not vote but had been expected to side with the bill. Republicans Dick Lugar of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Charles Grassley of Iowa supported the bill.
Mike Breen, Executive DIrector of the Truman Project, said, “The DoD has a long history of encouraging private-public partnerships that result in new opportunities for civilian industries. Advanced biofuels can be the next success story. Senator Hagan’s amendment supports a Defense Production Act program that requires equal investments from government and private stakeholders to create full-scale advanced biofuels production capabilities.”
“This is the second successful vote in two days,” added Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, “supporting renewable fuels and the message lawmakers are sending is clear – biofuels play a critical role in developing a diversified energy portfolio to meet our growing energy needs and increase our energy independence.
““Biofuels have the momentum,” said Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America, said. “In the last two days the Senate has voted twice to support biofuel development. Congress is moving America forward with public/private partnerships that are putting steel in the ground and creating careers on advanced biofuel projects while providing the stability and security the Department of Defense wants.
“We now have two examples in two days of the strength and momentum behind renewable fuels,” commented Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Americans believe in biofuels and see a future that is strong, bright and energy independent.”
Phyliis Cuttino, director of the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and CLimate, said that “the Senate’s strong and bi-partisan support for the Udall and Hagan amendments sends a clear message: the Pentagon’s clean energy initiatives to reduce dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our national security should be encouraged and protected.”
Roll-call: The geography of support
The geography of support is shown below – green representing states where both Senators voted in favor of the Udall amendment, blue representing a split vote, and brown representing states where both Senators voted against.
|Alphabetical vote by Senator Name
Grouped By Vote Position
Grouped by Home State
More background on the story from the Digest
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