Will Senate vote today end ethanol subsidies?
June 14, 2011
Political contributions from interest groups again has played a crucial role in support of SB 871, to repeal the ethanol tax earmark and tariff. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top 10 receivers of ear-marked contributions are: Barbara Boxer ($96,117), Harry Reid ($91,144), Saxby Chambliss ($89,250), Roy Blunt ($77,250), Michael Bennet ($70,561), Mitch McConnell ($70,000), Pat Roberts ($57,499), Ben Nelson ($50,250), Richard Burr ($49,000) and Patty Murray ($43,428).

The amendment of U.S. Senator Thomas Coburn, MD (R-Oklahoma) who allegedly received $20,000 in contributions, is up for a vote shortly today. Amendment #436 is identical to SB 871 that he introduced with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Coburn claims that his amendment would save the government $3 billion for the remainder of 2011 and $6 annually.

"A coalition of organizations representing issues traditionally at odds with one another drafted a letter voicing their support for ending ethanol subsidies," said Pamela Heisey of maplight.org. Included in the coalition are organizations such as the Sierra Club, Oxfam America, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Restaurant Association, and assorted meat, poultry and dairy producers. The subsidy repeal is opposed by corn growers and ethanol producers, pitting alternative energy interests and environmental policy groups against each other.

"Removing the ethanol tax incentives without reforming the transportation fuels market would raise gas prices on everyday Americans and would perpetuate our addiction to foreign oil by limiting consumer choice at the pump," stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Defending the production of ethanol, Growth Energy refuted the Grocery Manufacturers of America claim in 2008 that the ethanol industry was responsible for the rising cost of food, the claim by Indirect Land Use Change that growing grains for biofuel production displaces other crops and leads to deforestation and that water is used inefficiently (about three gallons of water produces a gallon of ethanol), raising environmental concerns.

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