Rising Biofuels Industry Gives Commuters Hope (Rep. Jerry Weller)

There’s a new study found in the recent edition of U.S. News and World Report that shows Americans are spending more and more time on the road to get to work. People in Will County, Illinois, in my district, have among the longest commutes in the nation. All of this puts the issue of gas prices into sharper focus, because increasing travel times and increasing fuel costs are a bad combination –- for consumers’ pocketbooks, and for the environment.

But we’ve seen a ray of hope as a result of our 2005 energy bill.

I was in Shorewood, Illinois, yesterday, to point out the fact that the price of a gallon of E85 is about 40 cents cheaper than a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. Thanks to the 2005 energy bill, this country will double in 5 years the amount of biofuels it consumes –- fuels like ethanol made from corn and biodiesel made from soybeans. The result is a flurry of economic activity in the form of new biofuels production plants (seven in my district alone, including what will soon be the world’s largest biodiesel plant, in Seneca, IL) and incentives for companies to install biofuels handling equipment at their stations. Not to mention the higher price farmers are getting for their crops.

The bottom line is we’ve given consumers a cleaner, less expensive choice at the gas pump. I propose we do more, and have introduced legislation to dramatically increase the amount of biofuels we use in the country and give consumers an incentive to purchase a new, flex-fuel hybrid vehicle.

In the meantime, it’s clear our inability to increase our refining capacity has prevented gasoline from entering the marketplace. Many experts agree the resulting bottleneck on supply is the primary reason for this most recent price spike.

As we will begin to take up a new energy bill soon, I urge my colleagues to support common sense measures that bring the supply-demand curve back into balance, which will help every American –- including those who because of high gas prices and long travel times are burning large portions of their paychecks on the way to work.