Senators from U.S. coal states introduce American Fuels Act

| May 12, 2011

U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., believes Americans will pay an extra $800 this year due to high gas prices, but along with several other Senators, he has a plan to work against those high gas prices. Barrasso, along with Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have introduced the American Fuels Act, which they hope will “break down the barriers to alternative fuels­­­—including fuels derived from coal, biomass, algae and waste.” To do so now, Barrasso said, is “more important than ever.”

Manchin believes that with the high gas prices affecting everyone throughout the country, a bill like this underscores a critical need, one that “the federal government needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, for businesses that can transform our domestic energy resources into gas,” Manchin said.

While both Barrasso and Manchin represent states heavily invested in coal, and Manchin even pointed out a new coal-to-gasoline plant that broke ground in Mingo County, W.V., earlier this week, the bill does aim to promote the use of many real clean energy alternatives to fossil-based fuel.

Most notably the bill aims to do the following:

  1. Repeal domestic fuel production barriers in Section 526 of the 2007 Energy bill that the Senators believe greatly restricts the federal government from buying alternative fuels.
  2. Allow the Department of Defense the ability to enter into 20-year contracts for alternative fuels.
  3. Promote algae-based fuels, and provide incentives to those same fuels that also include a carbon sequestration process.
  4. Speed up the U.S. DOE’s loan guarantee program, a program the Senator’s believe is slowed by “delays in the bureaucratic process.” Delays, they say, that can be fixed by increasing the transparency of the process.
  5. Allow synthetic natural gas production facilities to qualify for the loan guarantees, including any syngas made from coal, biomass, petroleum, coke or solid waste.

Joining Barrasso and Manchin as cosponsors on the bill are Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Dan Coats, R-Ind., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and lastly, Lisa Murkowski, R.-Ark.

Earlier this year in March, Barrasso spoke about the negative effects of the high gas prices, calling the president’s policies “wreckless,” specifically pointing to Obama shutting down offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

In his own speech, Manchin said “it doesn’t matter whether your state has oil, coal, natural gas, geothermal, nuclear, biomass, wind, solar or hydro,” because, he added, “we have to harness all the tremendous resources right here in America.”

Along with the Alternative Fuels Act, Manchin has also signed a piece of legislation introduced by Senator Herb Kohl, D-Wis., known as the “NOPEC,” bill or the No Oil Producing & Exporting Cartels Act that would allow the Department of Justice “to go after foreign countries such as the members of OPEC for antitrust violations because of their price-fixing behavior,” according to Manchin.

And, in addition to those actions, Manchin also pointed out another measure the U.S. can take to end the country’s dependence and vulnerability to foreign oil. “The other major issue we must address now is speculators and oil company subsidies. There’s no lack of oil on the market. This is not a supply issue. The real problem is the pure greed of some who are taking advantage of the instability in our world to line their pockets on the backs of American families.”