In the Washington Post’s “Plum Line” column today Greg Sargent focuses on two GOP senators’ campaign to get rid of the ethanol subsidies that are due to expire at the end of the year. It’s likely that the issue will be a divisive one on the Republican side, because some strong supporters of ethanol subsidies want to extend the 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit for blenders of ethanol and the tariff on ethanol imports.
Influential Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn are arguing that a clear message in the recent elections was that Americans want to reduce government spending, and the ethanol programs should be on the cutting block.
A surprise new opponent of ethanol subsidies from the other Party is former Vice President Al Gore, who was quoted as saying: “It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol.” Gore noted that ethanol as a fuel has a small energy conversion ratio. He also explained his earlier support for ethanol subsidies as a product of his political ambition to become president:
“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”
Many environmental and food aid groups – some of which had originally supported corn-based ethanol production – turned against this technology because of the diversion of corn crops from food to fuel production as well as the environmental damage of its production. CEI early on – in 2006 — called attention to the land and environmental costs of expanded ethanol production because of the subsidies and other incentives, especially the renewable fuels mandate. In 2007, CEI pointed to the unintended consequences of the ethanol program. Check out CEI’s global warming website for news about CEI’s continued efforts to get rid of the ethanol mandate, subsidies, and tariffs.