WASHINGTON – It was a nice try, but no cigar, as farm-state senators tried once again to attach a renewable fuels standard amendment to legislation with a better chance of passage than the troubled national energy policy bill.
By a 51-48 vote, the Senate did not agree to add the renewable fuel standard amendment offered by three Democratic senators to the Internet tax moratorium measure that did pass the Senate Thursday.
Earlier, Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and others, took the renewable fuels standard language from the comprehensive energy bill and introduced it as an amendment to the other legislation.
Following that move, Sen. Pete Dominici, R.N, M., re-introduced his slimmed down version of the comprehensive energy bill that failed to pass a cloture vote in the Senate last November. Republican and Democratic senators then traded charges over who was delaying the energy bill.
Dominici, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and other farm-state senators have been attempting to pass the RFS provision and other comprehensive energy legislation for three years. When it has come to a vote in the Senate previously, the RFS passed with 68 votes in 2003 and 69 votes in 2002.
But it failed to muster the 60 votes needed to cut off debate in the Senate after a House-Senate Conference Committee included a product liability waiver for the MTBE fuel additive in the conference report that was submitted to the Senate.
Sen. Harry Reid, the assistant minority leader from Nevada, expressed his opposition to the broader bill proposed by Dominici, saying he favored the narrower renewable fuels standard legislation.
"This is another missed opportunity to enact legislation to help resolve America's energy problems, boost rural development and farm income and improve the environment," said National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson in a statement released following the RFS amendment vote.
"The games must stop," the Farmers Union leader said. "Congress must move past the controversial provisions within the energy bill that have not and will not pass and fully embrace the prospects of producing more farm-grown fuels."