Obama campaign vows support for US biofuels

07 October 2008 21:01  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US presidential candidate Barack Obama supports the use of alternative fuels and, if elected, will further expand the US biofuels programme, a campaign official said on Tuesday.

The official said the Illinois senator would seek to increase the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to 60bn gal/year by 2022, up from the 36bn gal/year signed into law at the end of 2007.

“Senator Obama is a proud supporter of the RFS,” said Heather Zichal, policy director for energy, environment and agriculture for the Obama campaign.

“The goal here is to end America’s dependence on foreign oil,” she said, adding that Obama plans to invest $150bn over 10 years in renewable energy research.

Obama's campaign website also sets out a goal of putting 1m plug-in hybrid cars, capable of 150 miles/gal, on the road by 2015.

Zichal was speaking to agricultural radio programme AgriTalk as part of a two-session presidential series sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which represents the US ethanol industry.

Increased biofuels production would be vital to displace crude oil demand and give the US greater leverage in foreign policy, Zichal said.

Obama supports the 45-cent/gal blenders’ tax credit for ethanol as it reduces the price of gasoline at the pump, she said.

“It can save US families as much as $300/year in fuel costs,” Zichal said.

Obama also supports the controversial 54-cent/gal US tariff on imported ethanol because it is helping protect and “nurture” the US biofuels industry, she said.

Zichal attacked Obama's opponent, Senator John McCain, saying the Republican opposed the RFS and supported waivers under the mandate, such as recently sought by Texas governor Rick Perry.

Under the RFS, the US will be required to blend 9bn gal (34bn litres) of ethanol into its gasoline this year.

Perry had asked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut that figure by half.

The EPA in August turned down the request, saying no evidence existed that the RFS would cause economic hardship or environmental damage in Texas.

McCain’s campaign has been invited to present its policy position on the radio programme, but has not yet responded to repeated requests to discuss the same questions, AgriTalk said.

McCain opposes renewable-fuel requirements but supports tax credits for renewables, according to an industry consultant.

The Republican is also said to oppose the US import tariff on ethanol.

Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels

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By: William Lemos
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