Ethanol is under fire in the Senate


Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is now ready to introduce his legislation eliminating both the Volume Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and a tariff imposed on ethanol imports, possibly as early as Tuesday. Coburn has threatened to introduce the measure several times. But a spokesman for his office says he’s ready to move the measure under Senate rules next week, when Coburn will offer it as an amendment to a pending economic development reauthorization bill. The spokesman says that while Coburn informed neither Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nor his own Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, of his plans, the Oklahoma lawmaker says he believes he has the 60 votes necessary for passage.

The 45-cent VEETC, otherwise known as the blenders’ tax credit, is expected to worth about $6 billion this year to the ethanol industry. The blenders’ credit and the 54-cent import tariff have for years been defended by the ethanol industry as necessary protections for a relatively young industrial sector.

On another front, ethanol organizations have written members of the Senate asking them to oppose an amendment to pending legislation that would strip USDA and other federal agencies of the authority to incentivize the installation of flex pumps at retail filling stations.

“We write today urging you to oppose an amendment that would halt our efforts to create American jobs, strengthen national security and bolster our rural economy,” said the letter from the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) offered the amendment to a bill reauthorizing the Economic Development Administration.

The letter said McCain’s amendment “would enforce the foreign oil mandate over our transportation fuels marketplace by blocking a job-creating effort to promote the installation of flex pumps. Flex pumps would provide consumers the power to choose their fuel, instead of having oil companies make that choice for them.”

The organizations said the “only way we are going to break oil’s strategic hold over our economy is by opening the consumer market to commercially available alternatives, like ethanol.” They said that if the amendment passes the Senate, “it would increase gas prices on working families by prohibiting more affordable fuel from entering the market, put U.S. jobs at risk, increase our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and pull the rug out from under the efforts to develop cellulosic ethanol by preventing ethanol from gaining equal market access with foreign oil.”

Source: 25x’25 Weekly Resource