Environmentalists lament death of state biofuel bill

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – They don’t often see things the same way, but the state’s leading environmental organization and a conservative GOP lawmaker are criticizing the demise of a bill aimed at providing tax incentives for producing biofuels.

The House and Senate passed different versions of a bill to encourage farmers and biofuel producers to expand production and consumption of renewable, plant-based motor-vehicle fuels.

But as the 2005 session came to a close Friday, the biofuels measure was doomed by disputes over unrelated amendments sought by business lobbyists to block new auto emission standards and extend some pollution control tax breaks.

The Oregon Environmental Council said it was “deeply disappointed” that those disputes ended up killing a bill that would have created jobs, launched a new market for Oregon corn and seed farmers and provided a cleaner fuel for motorists.

“The biofuels bill would have moved Oregon to a more secure and environmentally friendly energy future,” said Matt Blevins, the council’s top lobbyist in Salem.

Rep. Jeff Kropf, co-sponsor of the bill and a grass seed grower, called the biofuels bill a “casualty of politics” and said it provides another example of how excessive partisanship at the Capitol ends up killing worthwhile ideas.

“I am disappointed with both sides,” the sublimity Republican said. “This bill would have benefited all of Oregon – especially rural Oregon.”