Monday, June 13, 2011

Senate To Vote On Ending Ethanol Tax Credit Tomorrow

Jun 13: U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released a statement regarding the Senate's plan to vote this tomorrow on his amendment No. 436 to S.782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer. Sen. Corburn's amendment, which is identical to S.871 which he has introduced with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to repeal the ethanol tax earmark and tariff. Sen. Coburn indicated that the amendment would save $3 billion for the remainder of this year and $6 billion annually. The amendment would end the current ethanol tax credit on July 1, 2011.
    Senator Coburn said, "The days of placing spending programs in the tax code and giving them holy status are over. Economic conservatives and leading free-market groups like the Club for Growth understand that using the tax code to pick winners and losers kills economic growth and job creation. Today's way of doing business is a tax increase on anyone who can't hire a tax lobbyist or make large donations to special interest groups in Washington. Taxpayers are tired of this game and expect us to eliminate wasteful special interest spending in all of its forms. Eliminating the ethanol tax earmark and tariff would be a big step toward restoring fiscal sanity in Washington. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment on Tuesday. Ethanol is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy."
    The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) issued a statement in advance of the cloture vote on the Coburn amendment. RFA said the tax credit, known as VEETC, is already set to expire at the end of this year. They said the association has been working "in good faith with leaders in Congress to transition and transform ethanol tax policy to address budget concerns while providing for the continued growth and evolution of American ethanol production." RFA reported that Sen. Coburn was the recipient of some $250,000 in oil and gas industry donations since 2005. 
    RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, "This is the same kind of political gamesmanship that nations like Iran and Venezuela are exercising to keep consumer energy prices artificially high and Americans addicted to oil. If this were truly about sound policy and concerns over energy tax subsidies, then this amendment would include efforts to repeal the billions of taxpayer dollars oil and other mature energy industries receive each year while posting tens of billions of dollars in profits quarterly. As few observers give this bill any chance of getting to the president's desk, Sen. Coburn's efforts are yet another example of oil-patch politics trumping sound national energy policy. We encourage Sen. Coburn to lay down his arms and work with the ethanol industry to craft thoughtful and fiscally responsible legislation that allows for continued innovation and growth of domestic biofuel production and use without pushing the industry off a cliff.

    "Ethanol is the only alternative to imported oil available today and the only technology keeping money out of bank accounts in Caracas and Tehran. Pulling the rug out from under a still maturing industry would force consumers to pay more at the pump, do nothing to mitigate impacts of rising food prices resulting from exorbitant oil prices, and jeopardize the commercialization of promising new ethanol and biofuels technologies. This is an amendment meant with an eye toward reelection, not deficit reduction." 

    In a second release issued today, RFA said, ". . . pro-oil and environmental lobbyists are spending millions of dollars on a smear campaign against ethanol in Washington, New Hampshire, and around the county. The mud-slinging by some special interests and the flood of misinformation being propagated about ethanol aside, the focus on ethanol at this point in time provides an opportunity for a much more comprehensive and adult conversation about America's energy future – beyond 'Drill, baby, drill.'"
    Access a release from Sen. Coburn with links to the amendment, background, letter of support, Club for Growth's statement, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste letter (click here). Access a 6/10 release from RFA (click here); and a 6/13 release (click here). Access legislative details for S.782 including amendments and roll call votes (click here). Access legislative details for S.871 including amendments and roll call votes (click here). [*Energy/Biofuels]