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U.S. Farm Belt lawmakers introduce bills to boost biofuel industry

Published 06/30/2021, 05:08 AM
Updated 06/30/2021, 05:16 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An ethanol plant with its giant corn silos next to a cornfield in Windsor, Colorado July 7, 2006./File Photo

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. Farm Belt lawmakers will introduce a trio of bills on Tuesday aimed at boosting public investment in biofuels as the industry tries to combat a White House push for electric vehicles, according to copies of the bills seen by Reuters.

The bills, which include billions of dollars in grants and tax credits, could get swept into broader infrastructure or spending bills snaking through Congress. Democrats hold a thin majority in both houses, and individual Democratic lawmakers are likely to leverage that position to extract regional benefits from the broader bills.

The biofuel industry is trying to position itself as lower-carbon bridge to an electric car future. Biden is counting on a surging electric car market to hit his target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

One funding bill, co-introduced by U.S. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota and U.S. Republican Senator Joni Ernst, of Iowa, would provide $1 billion in grants to pay for pumps and storage tanks with higher gasoline blends of biofuels like corn ethanol.

A second bill introduced by the two senators would provide a $200 per-car tax credit for automakers who make "flex fuel" vehicles that can run on virtually any blend of gasoline or ethanol.

"Diversifying our fuel supply, introducing higher blends of biofuels to the market, and making sure retailers have the right equipment to take advantage of these blends will promote clean energy and support our rural economies," Klobuchar said in written statement provided to Reuters.

Reuters first reported the lawmakers' plan on June 21.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An ethanol plant with its giant corn silos next to a cornfield in Windsor, Colorado July 7, 2006./File Photo

A third bill, sponsored by Klobuchar and Republican U.S. Senator John Thune, of South Dakota, would give fuel blenders and retailers like gas stations a tax credit for each gallon of fuel containing 15% or greater ethanol content that they sell.

"Biofuels not only support a critical market for our farmers and deepen American energy security, but they offer a lower-carbon fuel for domestic use and export without the unresolved costs, labor issues, and resource constraints of the all-in push for vehicle electrification," Thune said in a written statement.

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