WASHINGTON The Bush administration has proposed
scrapping the current U.S. renewable fuels standard that
requires ethanol use to reach 6.8 billion gallons a year in
2010 in favor of a wider alternative fuels requirement that
aims to cut America's foreign oil dependence.
Under the legislative proposal sent to Congress on Monday,
the new standard would require U.S. ethanol and alternative
fuel consumption to reach 10 billion gallons in 2010.
The alternative fuels standard would then slowly rise
through 2014, and ramp up the following three years to reach 35
billion gallons annually in 2017.
The 35 billion gallon goal is part of the Bush
administration's plan to reduce projected 2017 gasoline
consumption by 20 percent.
The administration's plan "holds the promise of changing
this trend, diversifying the sources, types, and volumes of
fuels we use and reducing our nation's vulnerability to supply
disruption," said U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and
Environmental Protection Agency head Stephen Johnson in a joint
letter that accompanied the draft bill sent on Monday to the
House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In addition to ethanol, alternative fuels under the bill
would include biodiesel and motor fuel made from municipal
solid waste, natural gas, hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels,
electricity and other fuels to be determined by the Energy
The draft legislation calls for a credit, banking and
trading program to encourage alternative fuel production.
The bill authorizes the federal government to sell
compliance credits, which are weighted for their energy or BTU
content, to make sure the program does not impose unreasonable
costs on consumers, Bodman and Johnson said.
Identification numbers would be assigned to each batch of
alternative fuel that is produced or imported. The numbers
would be used by the obligated parties to demonstrate they are
meeting the new fuel standard, or transferred to other parties
that are not in compliance.
Many energy experts question whether Bush's plan is
feasible and doubt the United States will make the scientific
breakthroughs necessary to produce affordable cellulosic
ethanol that is made from agricultural and farm wastes. Most
U.S. fuel ethanol is now made from higher-priced corn.
Still, Bush promoted his plan on Tuesday when he toured a
General Motors Corp. plant in Kansas and a Ford Motor Co.
facility in Missouri that make vehicles that run on limited
"That technology is coming. It may be far-fetched to some,"
Bush said in a speech following his tour. "I think it's
achievable," he said.