Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, examined biofuel infrastructure that reduces our dependence on foreign fuel at a hearing today. The committee also considered the Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2011, a Johnson-cosponsored bill that aims to expand the market for renewable fuels.
“For biofuels to reach their full potential to displace foreign oil and enhance our energy security, we need to ensure that the vehicle and fueling infrastructure is in place,” Johnson said. “This is a challenging fiscal and political environment, but I am committed to working to ensure biofuels can compete with traditional fossil fuels and help grow South Dakota’s economy.”
The committee heard testimony from Bill Brady, CEO, Mascoma Corporation; Shane Karr, VP of Federal Affairs, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; Bob Dinneen, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Associations and John Eichberger, National Association of Convenience Stores.
The Biofuels Market Expansion Act aims to expand access to renewable fuels by increasing to 90 percent in 2016 the number of vehicles manufactured that can use blends of up to E85; awarding grants to small fuel distributors to install E85 pumps and requiring major fuel distributors to increase the number of blender pumps installed. It would also allow certain biofuel pipelines to qualify for Department of Energy loan guarantees of up to 80 percent of the project cost.
As a member of this committee Johnson has played a key role in expanding the production and use of biofuels. Johnson helped craft the first nationwide Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the 2005 Energy Bill and worked to significantly expand RFS targets in the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007. Johnson believes that increasing the availability of flexible fuel vehicles and the pumps and tanks capable of distributing E85 ethanol will be essential to meet these goals and reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports.