Natural Resources Defense Council urging end to ethanol subsidies

One of Washington's biggest environmental lobbies, the Natural Resources Defense Council, just sent out this press release calling for an end to the $6 billion in subsidies for “biofuel,” err, ethanol. Well, you know what they say about stopped clocks — as it happens the NRDC is absolutely right about this one:

Starting with this lame duck session of Congress, lawmakers can end harmful subsidies that increase pollution and waste taxpayer money. By refusing to extend the 45 cent-per-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline and the 54 cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, Congress can stand up to the oil companies and corn ethanol lobbyists, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and stop billions in taxpayer dollars from going to pay oil companies to obey the law.

If extended for five years, the corn ethanol subsidy would pay oil companies more than $31 billion for using 69 billion gallons of corn ethanol that the Federal Renewable Fuels Standard already requires them to use.  This amounts to $6 billion next year alone.

As concerns over spending and the federal deficit grow, this is exactly the type of wasteful subsidy that must be cut.

The 17 Senators who called for the end to the subsidy include such unlikely partners as Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and John McCain, R-Ariz. Their letter to Senate leadership signaling their opposition to any extensions of the corn ethanol tax credit and import tariff came just a day after a coalition of 58 organizations also called on Congress to let the tax credit and tariff expire at year’s end. The coalition includes ideologically opposed FreedomWorks and MoveOn, as well as taxpayer advocates, deficit hawks, food companies, hunger and development groups, agricultural industry representatives, religious organizations and environmental organizations.

Senators supporting the subsidies insist that the tax breaks will help end our dependence on foreign oil. But ethanol blenders have been claiming the tax credit for ethanol they sell overseas, so instead of strengthening our energy security, our taxpayer dollars are subsidizing ethanol exports. Moreover, the tariff penalizes ethanol imports from friendly countries like Brazil, India and Australia, while oil from OPEC comes in tariff free. This is not energy security.

Now is the time to urge Congress to end these handouts to industry.

This comes on the heels of Al Gore admitting his support of ethanol subsidies was a “mistake.” B-b-but if we get rid of ethanol subsidies, what will presidential candidates pretend to be interested in talking about to people they acost on the streets of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa?

Now if we can just get the environmental lobby speak up about the ridiculous amount we pay in sugar subsidies, something that benefits just a handful of politically connected families…

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