Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has introduced legislation that would allow states to opt out of the corn ethanol portion of the renewable fuel standard (RFS). Senator Inhofe said, “The fuel blenders and gas station owners have no option but to sell ethanol-blended gasoline, despite strong consumer demand for clear gas. This bill will merely allow for fuel producers to respond to market demands when and where consumers prefer clear gas. Right now, they can’t do that.” The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) responded by saying the senator’s efforts would “raise the price of gasoline and force America to use more imported oil.”

Expand Biofuels Market — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is proposing legislation to expand the biofuels market. His legislation would require 50% of the vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States to be flex-fuel capable by 2013, and 90% by 2015. The legislation would also require major fuel distributors to install at least one blender pump at more refueling stations, reaching 50% by 2019. Harkin’s proposal provides for grants of up to 40% of the cost of installing blender pumps.

Open Seats Targeted in November Election — Polls are predicting that Republicans will likely gain congressional seats in this year’s election; both parties are focusing on the large number of open seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Fourteen states have open Senate seats (seven Democrat, seven Republican). They include Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. There are 43 open seats in the House (20 Democrat, 23 Republican). Historically, there are 20 to 30 competitive House seats by Election Day. This year both parties are targeting over 100 seats.

Senate Agricultural Committee Seats — There are six members of the Senate Agriculture Committee up for reelection this fall. They are Senators Mike Bennett (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and John Thune (R-SD). All eyes are on the Arkansas Senate race with Senator Blanche Lincoln being challenged by Congressman John Boozman (R-AR), who represents northwest Arkansas. The agriculture community is following this race closely because Senator Lincoln serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.