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U.S. Energy bill calls for ethanol to replace gasoline, prompts debate over coal as motor fuel.

U.S. Energy bill calls for ethanol to replace gasoline, prompts debate over coal as motor fuel.

Lawmakers moved ahead Wednesday on a broad energy bill to replace one-quarter of U.S. gasoline use with ethanol.
A bid by coal-state senators to promote liquefied coal as a motor fuel substitute stalled amid a debate over global warming.
The overall legislation as developed Wednesday by a Senate committee would require a sevenfold increase in ethanol production to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) a year by 2022. The proposal also would authorize loan guarantees and other incentives for ethanol research and plant construction.
Senate leaders have said they would like to take up the legislation before the end of the month as the first major energy initiative since Democrats assumed control of Congress.
The measure would establish an overall goal of curtailing future gasoline use by as much as 40 percent below what it otherwise is expected to be in 2030.
The centerpiece would mean aggressively replacing gasoline with ethanol. This currently is made from corn but in the future also is expected to be produced from cellulosic feedstock such as switchgrass, which is a hardy prairie grass in great abundance, as well as wood chips and corn stems.
The Senate bill includes requirements for more efficient appliances and light bulbs, and supports production of more fuel efficient cars. The legislation had wide bipartisan support ahead of a vote expected Wednesday in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
But senators from coal-states questioned why the bill omitted any reference to liquefied coal. They said this alternative fuel and technology is well known and could supplant billions of gallons of gasoline with a widely available domestic fuel source.
The committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman urged greater study into the connection between liquefied coal and climate change. He cautioned against shifting the focus of the bill away from renewable biofuels such as ethanol.
The Democratic-led committee, along a 12-11 party-line vote, rejected the liquefied coal amendment. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed the issue would be revived when the bill gets to the full Senate.
Bingaman and other opponents of the liquified coal amendment said that before coal is to play a major role in replacing gasoline, there is a need for more assurance that the carbon dioxide from coal conversion will be captured and contained.
Otherwise "we're setting ourselves up for a disaster. ... The carbon issue is that important," said Sen. Jon Tester.
The bill would authorize increased spending for carbon sequestration research and proposes $500 million (euro367.9 million) over five years on large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects involving coal.