Senators reintroduce legislation supporting use of alternative fuels

A group of U.S. senators, including John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), last week reintroduced the North American Alternative Fuels Act, which would repeal Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

Passed in 2007, the EISA prohibits the federal government or U.S. military from purchasing fuel produced from coal, oil shale or oil sands.

“Our nation’s military should have access to any and all fuel sources it needs to achieve its mission,” Barrasso said. “Instead of giving preference to oil imported from overseas, Washington should look to North American coal, oil shale and oil sands, all of which provide an affordable, abundant and alternative source of fuel. In addition to increasing cost effectiveness options for the government, it will also increase America’s energy security.”

Specifically, Section 526 of the 2007 EISA blocks all federal agencies from entering into contracts to purchase alternative transportation fuels, unless the contract specifies that the alternative fuel does not emit a level of greenhouse gas that is greater than conventionally produced fuel under the same conditions.

“Achieving domestic energy independence and reducing our vulnerability to foreign oil imports is vital to our national security and our economic stability,” Manchin said. “This bill takes a large step in the right direction by allowing the federal government—including our military – to use alternative and synthetic fuels like coal-to-liquid. Relying on our nation’s coal supply, coal-to-liquid fuel can be delivered through existing pipelines and is readily useable today in existing markets, including in the military. It is just common sense to establish all-of-the-above energy strategies that include fuels created from our abundant American energy resources.”

Heitkamp stressed that the U.S. needs to support its own energy industry. 

“There is no reason why America should have an energy policy that explicitly discriminates against its own abundant natural resources while also restricting our military from using all available energy options,” Heitkamp added. “Instead, we need policies that support American coal and shale oil, instead of foreign oil, so that we can reach our long term goal of North American energy security and independence. This bipartisan bill will help establish confidence in America’s energy sector by overturning policies prohibiting sound investments in alternative fuels like coal-to-liquids, and instead bring us closer to an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will make us stronger, safer, and more independent for generations to come.”

The North American Alternative Fuels Act also is co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and John Hoeven (R-ND).