Mar 28, 2008

Government Faces Defeat On Biofuels Bill

Paula Oliver reports on the prospects for the passage of the Government's biofuels bill in today's NZ Herald.

Growing concern about the merit of biofuels is threatening to derail a Government push to get the new fuels flowing out of petrol pumps in little more than three months.

The biofuel bill, now before a select committee, proposes to make oil companies begin selling a small but progressively higher amount of biofuels each year from July 1.

But while the bill passed its first reading comfortably, widespread political support is no longer as assured because of worries that the legislation does not deal strongly enough with questions about whether biofuels will come from sustainable sources.

Global debate about biofuels has shifted in recent months and in Britain - where the fuels are set to begin flowing on April 1 - a dispute is raging about whether biofuels will do more harm than good by leading to rainforest destruction and food shortages.

The Hive understands that Deputy PM Cullen is not pleased with the way in which this issue has been handled and that Climate Change Minister is under some pressure to somehow find a way for the Government to extricate itself from the position it now finds itself. Cullen has wider concerns about the climate change policy response, and the Government is preparing for a tough time in the select committee on the emissions trading legislation.