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Ethanol legislation vote blocked

By Staff | Jul 15, 2011

Last month the Senate voted 73-27 on an amendment to abolish ethanol subsidies and tariff protection, but later the overall legislation – to which the ethanol amendment was attached – was blocked. The House has not voted, which leaves the drive to curb outrageous (and unaffordable) ethanol subsidies stalled with federal support spigots still pumping billions into private coffers of big agribusiness (i.e. ADM).

Worst still, while anti-ethanol groups were high-five’ing eachother with the apparent victory in the Senate, they forgot to notice Obama’s EPA moved a significant step closer to flooding the nation with more ethanol by approving new pump labels to dispense E15 (15 percent ethanol blends) at gas stations. On another front in Paris, the Obama Administation effectively blocked consideration of a G20 resolution calling for an end to biofuel subsidies over growing global concerns on food prices/shortages. More than 40 percent of U.S. corn is being diverted to ethanol. In other words, while Congress dithers and talks, the executive branch is busy jamming more biofuels into the U.S. and world markets. U.S. exports of ethanol are huge and growing – putting the oft heard “energy independence” justification for biofuels into sharp relief with the truth.

The ethanol industry has duped Washington and the public with another masterful “Dope a’ rope” tactic – appearing willing to ‘give up’ subsidies in favor of new forms of support. Erstwhile ethanol backers like Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) are chirping compromise and a gradual phaseout of ethanol subsidies – but these porkers aren’t planning to leave the trough of public support anytime soon without a bruising fight. They are puppets for the real power behind the curtains: ADM. Anyone who thinks the “ethanol industry is on the ropes” or concerned about overwhelming public opposition to ethanol – is in for a surprise.

Perhaps the looming debt ceiling/federal deficit battle will provide another window for Congress and the Obama Administration to end this egregious example of public corruption run amok. But until the ethanol subsidies, tariffs and federally enforced mandates – which straitjacket the country with corn ethanol – are dismantled – we will be pouring more and more precious tax dollars into a dangerous scam which is distorting our economic futures while damaging our world image and democratic institutions.

Nicholas E. Hollis

Ethanol Transparency Project