What: All Issues : Corporate Subsidies : Coal Industry : Advanced Fuels Research and Development Act (H.R. 547)/Motion to recommit to the Science and Technology Committee with instructions to add coal-based liquids to a list of "alternative fuels" promoted in the underlying legislation (2007 house Roll Call 91)
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Advanced Fuels Research and Development Act (H.R. 547)/Motion to recommit to the Science and Technology Committee with instructions to add coal-based liquids to a list of "alternative fuels" promoted in the underlying legislation
house Roll Call 91     Feb 08, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote represented a Republican attempt to modify legislation to authorize $10 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency to research how to make alternative fuels more compatible with the nations existing petroleum-based fuel infrastructure. Offered using a parliamentary maneuver called a motion to recommit, the move would have sent the bill back to the Science and Technology Committee with instructions to include coal-based liquids in a bill promoting "biofuels" and change the measure's terminology instead to "alternative fuels."

The underlying legislation directs the federal government to help retailers make the infrastructure changes necessary to transition to biofuels. The bill would instruct the EPA to investigate additives and other technologies to ease such issues. The legislation would also direct the agency to develop a way to test the sulfur content of low-sulfur diesel fuel at fuel stations to make sure it complies with the needs of new low-sulfur diesel engines.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) offered the motion to recommit. "By leaving this out, this bill discriminates not only on coal-to-liquid technologies ... but also natural gas and hydrogen," Shimkus said of the bill.

Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the bill's sponsor, said the motion was "another effort to try to undermine this good bill today." He said that while "clean" coal may be part of future energy supplies, it "is not available now." Adding it to this bill would only undermine the legislation, he said, as the bill was intended to be a "very narrow" fix to redesign existing infrastructure.

Shimkus' amendment was likely a political maneuver designed to put coal-state Democrats on the defensive, requiring them to buck their party's leadership or seemingly vote against the interests of their own states' economies.

In the end, nine Democrats -- including West Virginia Reps. Nick Rahall and Alan Mollohan, who represent a coal-producing state -- voted for Shimkus' motion. Only one Republican, Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.) opposed it.

Some coal-state Democrats did not take the bait, however. "I'm not taking anything serious that Republicans are doing today," said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). Doyle represents a coal-producing state and supports expanding coal-to-liquids technology.

The final vote was 200 to 207, and the motion to recommit failed. Thus, Republicans were unsuccessful in their effort to send biofuel-infrastructure legislation back to committee with instructions to include liquid-coal among the "alternative fuels" promoted in the measure. The bill to direct the EPA to develop technology to facilitate the implementation of biofuels and low-sulfur diesel went forward without an amendment promoting coal.

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