STATEMENT BY SEN. JAMES INHOFE ON THE INTRODUCTION OF
THE ALTERNATIVE FUEL STANDARD ACT OF 2007
APRIL 19, 2007
 
I rise today to introduce the Alternative Fuel Standard Act.  The bill that I am introducing today reflects the President’s draft legislation to which he referred in his State of the Union. 
 
Although I may have some questions with the particulars of the President’s plan, he and I share the common goal of increasing domestic energy security without compromising environmental quality.
 
As the committee of principal jurisdiction, the Committee on Environment and Public Works has a long history of moving fuels legislation.  While chairman, I successfully discharged legislation that served as the historic fuels title to the comprehensive energy bill.  That renewable fuels plan was the product of years of hearings, negotiation, and debate.  The President’s initiative deserves the same amount of attention.
 
According to a Labor Department report this month, most of the country’s inflation can be directly attributed to higher gas prices.  The USDA’s Economic Research Service concluded that high gas prices will increase food costs in 2007; the Service noted that the food consumer price index increased at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in 2006 and will increase 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent. 
 
The Energy Information Administration’s April 2007 Outlook noted that the higher prices are due to continued international tensions, the conversion to summer blends, and unanticipated refinery problems. 
 
AAA found that the average national price for gasoline is $2.87 up from $2.55 just a month earlier.  Yet those national high prices seem low compared to California.  AAA of Northern California noted that the average price for gasoline is $3.41 in Oakland, $3.53 in San Francisco, and averages $3.34 statewide.   
 
The bottom line – supply source instability and inadequate domestic infrastructure have and will continue to contribute to high prices and inflation unless Congress does something about it.  The President’s ambitious proposal seeks to alleviate those concerns by sourcing new supply domestically.
 
The proposal that I am introducing would amend the Clean Air Act’s existing renewable fuels standard by diversifying the types of qualifying fuels and increasing the volumes.  Qualifying alternative fuels will be expanded to include fuels derived from gas and coal, and hydrogen, among others.
 
Cellulosic biomass ethanol is a promising technology that could significantly increase fuel supplies without compromising the food and feed prices.  I am proud to say that some of the foremost research in the field is being done in my own state of Oklahoma, including a team at the Noble Foundation.  Their work is engineering high energy and perennial crops that can be grown across the country.
 
Similarly, coal-to-liquids fuels could be the greatest domestic energy resource of all time.  I have been promoting the technology for years, particularly for defense aircraft, but now is the time to expand this super clean fuel for use across America.
 
The plan would replace the current RFS by requiring 10 billion gallons of alternative fuel to be used in 2010 and increasing to 35 billion gallons by 2018.  The bill similarly builds upon the current RFS by requiring EPA to incorporate the newer qualifying fuels into the credit trading system.
 
I have been seeking to increase U.S. energy security for years.  I am glad that the President has stepped up and taken this issue head-on.  The proposal deserves careful and proper consideration.  The American people require as much.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve U.S. domestic energy security while fully considering public health and welfare.
 
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