Expressing concern over the future of the energy bill (HR 6) pending in the Senate, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) Monday offered an amendment to the $286 billion farm bill (HR 2419) that seeks to increase the nation’s use of renewable fuels over the next decade and a half.

Like the renewable fuels provision in the energy bill, the farm bill amendment would mandate that 36 billion gallons of ethanol and biofuels be blended into gasoline annually by 2022. However, unlike the energy measure that cleared the House last Thursday, the proposal would not give Congress the option to cancel the renewable fuels program starting in 2017 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 7). The Domenici proposal was expected to be accepted by the Democratic leadership.

The amendment includes “the very same provisions” that were in the energy bill passed by the Senate in June, said Domenici, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (see Daily GPI, June 25).

“It is clear that the energy bill has slowed down largely because the House has passed two major provisions — a tax increase and a renewable [electricity] standard that are untenable to many in the Senate,” as well as to President Bush, he noted.

The energy bill, as passed by the House, “weakens the renewable fuel standard” that the Senate initially passed, Domenici said. The amendment is necessary to “reinvigorate” the renewable industry, he added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) did not file for cloture on the energy bill Tuesday, as some had expected. His office did not say when cloture would be sought, which could set the stage for a vote on the bill. Details on the make-up of the measure have not been revealed yet. It is expected that the $21 billion tax package will be modified and the renewable electricity standard will be removed.

Senate Republicans last Friday blocked Democratic leaders from bringing the energy bill up for a vote on the Senate floor, forcing the leadership to make changes in the bill (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10).

If the Senate revises the House-passed bill, the measure passed by the Senate would need to be voted on by the House again (with no further changes) before it can be sent to the president.

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