Junior U.S. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Barrasso of Wyoming introduced legislation to tackle restrictions to alternative fuels and address high gasoline prices hurting residents in their rural states. The American Alternative Fuels Act addresses key areas to break down restrictions on alternative fuels including fuels derived from coal, biomass, algae and waste.

“Our unacceptably high gas prices are hurting not only West Virginians, but all Americans, and they underscore a critical need: the federal government needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, for businesses that can transform our domestic energy resources into gas,” Manchin said.

Manchin gasoline

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin feels the pain at the pump while he fills a car with gasoline. Credit: Joe Manchin website

The American Alternative Fuels Act (S. 937) eliminates barriers to alternative and domestic fuel production including repealing restrictions currently placed on the federal government to purchase alternative fuels. The legislation also expedites domestic fuel-based loan guarantee applications at the Department of Energy, provides incentives and promotion of algae-based fuel and permits the Department of Defense to enter into long-term contracts for the purchase of alternative fuels.

“It’s more important than ever that we make it as easy as possible to use all available sources of American energy,” Barrasso noted. “Breaking down barriers to alternative fuels is one way we can ease the pain at the pump and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”

Further addressing alternative fuel-based production, the bill highlights synthetic natural gas production facilities’ eligibility for the loan guarantee program. The components of synthetic natural gas are derived from coal, biomass, petroleum coke and solid waste. The final piece of the legislation requires the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate electric generation facilities that contribute to the increased demand and decreased emissions from electric vehicles.

Just a few days prior to introducing this legislation, Manchin attended the groundbreaking of the nation’s first coal-to-gas plant in Gilbert, W. Va. The plant is the first in the nation to convert an estimated 7,500 tons of West Virginia coal into clean gasoline daily. Overall, it is expected to produce 756,000 gallons of Premium 92 Octane each day to fuel cars, trucks, tanks and jets.

“This country has to get serious about making energy independence a priority, which is why we must develop a national energy policy that harnesses all of our vast domestic resources and push forward with new technology – just like coal-to-gasoline – that will help us achieve energy independence within a generation,” Manchin added. “All West Virginians can be proud that Mingo County, West Virginia, is at the center of a very exciting new frontier in energy technology that will help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.” The legislation provides a comprehensive approach to eliminate barriers to the production of alternative fuels, reduce reliance on foreign energy, further utilize domestic energy resources and create jobs for U.S. workers.

The American Alternative Fuels Act is cosponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.). A companion bill in the House has not yet been introduced.

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