Editorial: Senate vote on ethanol is worrisome

Published 9:47 am Monday, June 20, 2011

Someone has to call this one for what it is.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says the best way for ethanol to survive is if Congress repeals the tax credit that ethanol receives.

However, it’s clear what Coburn’s motives are. He represents an oil-rich state and is in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobbyists.

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The U.S. Senate voted 73-27 on Thursday to repeal the $5 billion annual subsidy. That’s a scary prospect for Minnesota and Iowa corn growers. Ethanol has benefitted the moribund rural Midwest economy like nothing else.

Meanwhile, oil and other fossil fuels receive all kinds of tax credits and subsidies, and the Senate recently had bipartisan support for more breaks in relation to natural gas.

Coburn’s statement on ethanol is clearly hypocritical.

Besides, while ethanol might not be the end-all-be-all solution to fossil fuels, it is a step in the right direction. The best solutions come with time and development of markets, and ethanol is building better and better facilities that use cellulosic technology. Simply put, the U.S. needs to begin rolling slowly before it can roll quickly when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases.

Plus, if the U.S. Senate is worried one bit about the staggering size of the deficit, it needs to change direction and stop giving even more welfare to the rich oil companies. (We’re cutting Head Start but giving welfare to oil companies? Huh? Where are America’s family values?) The oil companies don’t pass savings on to the consumer. Consumers already know the market sets the prices, not the federal dole.

Congress ought not yank the credit for ethanol unless it yanks it from oil, natural gas and other players in the energy markets. Let’s have an even playing field.