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Issues & Legislation
To decrease our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuel use, put Washington state farmers in the fuel business, and bring some competition to the gas pump, Maria is working to expand the use of locally produced biofuels. In the past five years, biodiesel use in Washington has gone from almost zero to more than one million gallons today, making Washington one of the top biodiesel use states nationwide. With ideal growing conditions for a wide range of feedstocks–like wheat straw, canola, and switchgrass–and forest biomass, and our innovative universities and entrepreneurs in mind, Senator Cantwell has sought to capitalize on our unique position and help launch a homegrown alternative fuels industry. For example, Maria established a $550 million “Advanced Biofuel Technologies Program” to promote research and cost shared grants for building cellulosic ethanol biorefineries and producing more value-added biodiesel byproducts as part of the 2005 comprehensive energy bill.
To expand and grow the Washington biofuels industry, Maria also launched the Washington BioFuels Business Collaborative bringing together interested entities from every step in the biofuel production and use chain. Following the inaugural meeting, Maria brokered a landmark agreement for the Port of Seattle and its clients to buy one million gallons of biodiesel a year. In addition, Senator Cantwell helped facilitate the construction of one of the biggest biodiesel facilities in the United States in Grays Harbor, as well as secure funding to help Washington State Ferries operate on locally-produced biofuels.
Senator Cantwell’s comprehensive energy legislation the Clean EDGE Act, which is cosponsored by a full quarter of the U.S. Senate, empowers consumers to use alternative fuels by requiring that 25 percent of all new American vehicles can run on any blend of gasoline and ethanol or biodiesel, known as flex-fuel technology, by 2010. The Clean EDGE Act also mandates the installation of thousands of biofuel pumps at local gas stations and sets a national goal of installing alternative fuels at 10 percent of American gas stations by 2015.
Together, by encouraging both in-state biofuel production and use we can work towards an energy policy that helps end America’s dangerous addiction to oil and reduces the harmful emissions that contribute to air pollution and global warming.