Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senate Votes To Kill Ethanol Subsidies

The Senate voted 73-27 today to kill a major tax break for the ethanol industry.

 The 72-27 vote on Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.), right,  amendment – which mirrors a bill she offered with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) – was approved despite opposition from Corn Belt lawmakers who are seeing political support for ethanol wane.

Feinstein's amendment to an economic development bill would quickly end the credit of 45 cents for each gallon of ethanol that fuel blenders mix into gasoline.
The credit led to $5.4 billion in foregone revenue last year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The amendment also ends the 54 cent-per-gallon import tariff that protects the domestic ethanol industry.

Thursday’s vote was a turnaround from Tuesday, when just 40 senators voted for Coburn’s identical amendment, well shy of the 60 needed to advance it. (The Hill, 6/16/2011)

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a press release today opposing the Feinstein amendment.
“President Obama has outlined a plan to reduce our oil imports by one-third by 2025. Biofuels play a central role in this plan, which is why this administration continues to support and invest in the development of these important, domestically produced fuels. The Administration supports efforts currently underway in the Senate to reform and modernize tax incentives and other programs that support biofuels. However, today’s amendments are not reforms and are ill advised. They could lead to job loss and pull the rug out from under industry, which will lead to less choice for consumers and greater dependence on foreign oil.

“We need reforms and a smarter biofuels program, but simply cutting off support for the industry isn’t the right approach. Therefore, we oppose a straight repeal of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and efforts to block biofuels infrastructure programs.”
USDA Press Release

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