Democrats Expect Bush Push on Ethanol
Word that President Bush will call for a massive increase in ethanol production as key to his strategy for energy security and the fight against global warming has Capitol Hill and industry lobbyists buzzing.
Bush's goal, according to sources, will be 60 billion gallons of ethanol blended with U.S. gasoline and pumped into cars by 2030. That's a staggering number for an industry that, working at breakneck speed, produced just 5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2006, outpacing the renewable fuels standard requirement by 25 percent. While ethanol's star is clearly climbing among Republicans and Democrats alike, many on the left say they're waiting until Bush's budget is released in February.
"The indication of how serious the administration is will be when the numbers come out," says a top Democratic aide. "The question is, 'Are they going to put their money where the mouth is?' " Democratic sources point out that after Bush's last State of the Unionwhen he announced that the country is "addicted to oil"his budget included a $17 million decrease in funding for vehicle technology research from the previous budget. Activist groups are also questioning the president's commitment to renewable fuels, noting that Bush has hit upon renewable energy themes seven times in major addresses but that his subsequent budget requests have been disappointments.
Among them was a request for renewable energy funding that "fell $290 million short of the level authorized by his own energy bill," according to John Anthony of the National Environmental Trust.