WASHINGTON — National Corn Growers Association leaders say they believe many members of Congress want an energy bill with a renewable fuels standard. The problem is how to make it happen in this waning session of Congress.
While in Washington in recent days, NCGA President Dee Vaughan and First Vice President Leon Corzine called upon Congress to get the energy bill passed. "It's not just about ethanol," said Vaughan. "It's about energy independence."
The NCGA leaders delivered messages to key leaders on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.; Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Resource Committee; and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. Pombo was chairman of House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Natural Gas Task Force.
Vaughan said he was encouraged. "The people we talked to want an energy bill," he noted. "They realize getting a comprehensive energy bill that includes a renewable fuels standard along with the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit is sound public policy that is reasonable for our nation to become less dependent on foreign oil."
He expressed concern, however, that the energy bill conference committee has not completed its work. "What has happened to the message that resonated so well earlier in the year when we were talking about new energy supplies?" Vaughan asked. "What has happened to doing the right thing for America?
"There are different groups that can make the United States less reliant on foreign oil, and corn growers through ethanol production can make that happen," Vaughan said. "We shouldn't look to the Middle East for energy when its right here in the Middle West."
In addition to ethanol, the energy bill includes provisions for energy sources such as natural gas, wind power and coal. "All these energy sources are important to producers and the U.S. economy because they take steps toward energy independence," Vaughan said. "Congress needs to finish the job they began. It's that simple."