US Senate votes down ethanol subsidies

Jun 17, 2011
The US Senate voted Thursday to end a $6 billion subsidy for ethanol in a move that appeared largely symbolic but sends a message about the growing unease on support for the biofuel made mostly from corn.

The US Senate voted Thursday to end a $6 billion subsidy for ethanol in a move that appeared largely symbolic but sends a message about the growing unease on support for the biofuel made mostly from corn.

In a 73-27 vote, the Senate approved an amendment to end a 45 cent per gallon credit given for blending ethanol into gasoline and scrap a hefty tariff on ethanol imports.

The outcome for the measure remains uncertain, since the broader bill would need to pass the Senate and the House of Representatives, but lawmakers said a broad coalition supports the move to help curb the massive .

"The ethanol and oil industries do not need nor do they deserve subsidies that are costly to American taxpayers, harm our environment and increase the cost of the food we eat," said Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who was among the 38 Democrats, 33 Republicans and two independents voting in favor.

The Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the , said it was "disappointed in the shortsightedness of this vote" but added: "As the underlying bill to which this amendment is attached is unlikely to make it to the president's desk, this vote was a freebie with no real consequences."

Critics say ethanol, made mainly from corn in the United States, has diverted too much grain from food to fuel, and has done little to ease .

A coalition including Tea Party activists and a range of environmental and community groups have been urging lawmakers to scrap the subsidy.

Tom Vilsack urged lawmakers to continue the subsidy to help reduce dependence on oil until newer biofuels come into service.

"President (Barack) Obama has outlined a plan to reduce our oil imports by one-third by 2025," Vilsack said.

"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... 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."

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dsl5000
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2011
We could do better than biofuels. Especially if we are also aiming for reduced or 0% carbon emission. Electric cars and increased/improved/smaller battery will be big. Also hydrogen fuel cells imo is the way to go.

Though i wish they would take that rejected subsidy and place it in R&D...but the money isn't there to begin with. Multi-trillion dollar debt needs to be controlled.
lengould100
not rated yet Jun 17, 2011
Removing the subsidy is just the simplest common sense, since it is nothing but a taxpayer encouragement for increased use of blended fuel. The 10% ethanol blending mandate which already exists guarantees that 10% of all US "gasoline" fuel will be ethanol with OR without the subsidy. The car drivers should be paying for the extra cost of ethanol, not the national taxpayers.
CuriousMan
not rated yet Jun 17, 2011
Here's a non-controversial bill that would shut it down real fast: Pass a law that no subsidies will be given to biofuels that don't return more fueld (ok, measure it in calories if you want) than is consumed in the production. That includes oil used to make fertilizer and energy consumed to harvest, transport, and especially brew/refine the ehtanol. No lawmaker could stand there with a straight face and say they wanted America to be oil-independent while opposing such a bill.
PPihkala
4 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2011
One big problem with corn ethanol that seldom is addressed is the water that is needed to grow that corn. What is the value of that water, used in many gallons per produced gallon of ethanol? Potable water is too valuable to be spend to feed our cars.
3432682
4 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2011
About 40% of our corn crop is going to fuel ethanol. It has caused a 10% increase in food prices in the US and periodic food riots in the poorest nations, and for the very poorest has no doubt contributed to an increased death rate. The ethanol subsidy is so stupid even Al Gore is against it. It's long past time to dump it.
Skultch
not rated yet Jun 17, 2011
Few things:

1. I'm no farmer, but I highly doubt we are irrigating with water that has been /made/ potable. My guess is that it just happens to already be potable, it doesn't make sense to transport elsewhere, it's privately owned before it even falls or melts. Minor distinction.

2. This subsidy indirectly subsidizes the fast food industry. (HFCS in soda and more) We are all paying to make it cheaper to be less healthy.

3. It's fine to complain about rising food costs. Watch it, though. If you are in the USA, your food is VERY VERY cheap, relative to most of the world. Never forget how luxurious a life the lower-middle class in the USA has.

Clearly, I am conflicted on this issue. I don't agree with anyone who comes off like this is a simple issue.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2011
The next step is to end the subsidy on sugar.
Candy companies have left the USA for Canada because of sugar price supports.
Another step is to open the market by removing restrictions on the importation of ethanol.
Skultch
not rated yet Jun 18, 2011
Please forgive #2 in my last post. That isn't the same subsidy, I don't think.

I thought of another reason to oppose this and other corn subsidies. Many hops growers moved to corn because of the ethanol subsidy. Remember when craft (hoppy) beers all of sudden got crazy expensive some years back? This is why. Hops prices went up ~ 10,000 percent. That has made some farmers move back to hops, and some new hops growers popped up, but it's still crazy expensive. Of course, beer is good food, so this isn't good.

Ethanol is for domestic energy to take power away from the middle east Muslim-ruled nations? So, indirectly, religion is taking away our beer.

Don't take me too seriously. This is half joking. :)
holoman
not rated yet Jun 20, 2011
ALL Business must stand on their on 2 feet, NO subsidies for
anybody.

BIG OIL
Ethanol
SOLAR
WIND
POOP Shutes
etc.

If they can't raise money then they don't belong in biz.

I am tired of US GOvt. funding every pork barrel or lame
DOE energy program.