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Congress Closer to Conference on Energy Bill

Differences may take weeks to work out.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was not successful last week in beginning conference work with the House to work out differences in their respective energy bills. However, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol Brian Jennings says it's much more likely to happen this week.

"It sounds like Democrats and Republicans are beginning to work out some of the political differences and procedural differences they had in moving forward," Jennings says. "I would predict that hopefully this week we will have an agreement to move forward on a bi-partisan, bi-cameral conference."

There are some major differences to be worked out. For one, the House does not have the Renewable Fuel Standard that is present in the Senate bill. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a major goal of many in Congress. Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Barrack Obama, D-Ill., have introduced stand-alone legislation that would immediately update the Renewable Fuels Standard and require three-billion gallons of biofuels from cellulosic sources.

"The bill would jump-start the Renewable Fuel Standard similarly to what the Senate energy bill already does, calling for 18 billion gallons of biofuels by the year 2016," Jennings says. "I think the senators did that to place some emphasis on the need to get the Renewable Fuel Standard passed. It seems that leadership in both the House and Senate support a large RFS as part of the final energy bill."

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