Home Energy and Environment Webb, Warner Vote to Kill Wasteful, Anti-Environmental Corporate Welfare for Ethanol Industry

Webb, Warner Vote to Kill Wasteful, Anti-Environmental Corporate Welfare for Ethanol Industry


Great news from the Senate, although it’s doubtful the Teapublican hypocrites in the House of Representatives will follow through.

In a stunning defeat for the ethanol industry, the Senate voted 73-27 to kill the subsidy the biofuel has had for three decades. The defeat was bipartisan. Thirty-three Republicans joined 38 Democrats and two independents in voting to terminate the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit on July 1 along with the 54-cent tariff on imported ethanol.

Thanks to Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both of whom voted to kill this monstrosity. Why the word “monstrosity?” Because corn-based ethanol costs taxpayers a boatload of money; harms the environment; raises food prices for everyone, especially hurting the poor (and fueling unrest in poor countries like Egypt and Tunisia); takes corn that could be used for food and wastes it; does very little if anything to advance our energy goals; enriches a few big agribusiness corporations like Archer Daniels Midland; increases the federal budget deficit for no good reason.

In sum, whether you are a fiscal hawk, an environmentalist, an American who believes in good government, an opponent of corporate welfare, or just about anything else other than an executive at Archer Daniels Midland or a farm state Congresscritter, you should applaud this vote.

UPDATE: Another measure, this one by John McCain (“To prohibit the use of Federal funds to construct ethanol blender pumps or ethanol storage facilities.”) was rejected today. On this one, Jim Webb voted the right way, Mark Warner the wrong way.

UPDATE #2: It’s been pointed out to me that repealing the import tariff on foreign ethanol, which was part of the bill that passed the Senate today, could help fuel more  growth in environmentally destructive biofuels around the world. Based on this, I’d say that the import tariff provision probably needs to be removed from the bill, assuming it ever gets past the House, which is unlikely…

  • FreeDem

    Lowell, while you made a good point about concern for the impacts of the import tariff repeal abroad, I don’t think it’s something that should be removed from the bill.

    Some foreign ethanol is being produced in an environmentally destructive way, such as the use of palm oil in Indonesia. Even though there’s concern about the destruction of the rainforests in Brazil from sugar farming, there production there includes sugar farms that are not from recently razed parts of the Amazon.

    We don’t currently tax or discriminate against manufactured goods from other countries depending on the environmental regulations of their host countries. It would be a high standard to demand that of imported ethanol.

    On the McCain Amendment, a similar amendment did pass the House today. I’m not sure if it is targeting a specific project or not.

    Finally, while I’m glad Warner voted for this amendment, he deserves criticism for not having voted for the earlier Coburn amendment. Warner apparently agreed with the amendment, but disagreed with the procedure behind it. I think that’s the coward’s way out.