WashPost Editorial Pushes for End to Ethanol Subsidies

Wednesday, 06 Jul 2011 06:07 PM

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Billions in subsidies continue to flow to ethanol production, despite attempts to end them — and even though ethanol doesn’t help the environment, contributes to soil depletion, and dirties water. But it’s time for the subsidies to end, The Washington Post concludes in an editorial.

“Last month, the Senate voted 73-27 for an amendment that would have immediately cut two indefensible federal ethanol subsidies. But the bill lawmakers attached it to failed,” the Post editorial says. “Now supporters of the policy are trying to pass it some other way, affixed to another bill or as part of the deal the White House and Republicans will eventually strike [we trust] on raising the federal debt limit. Either way, the supports must go.”

Congress protected ethanol with a “$6 billion-a-year tax subsidy to those who blend it into gasoline, a tariff on competing imports and a mandate that billions of gallons enter Americans’ fuel tanks every year, which come on top of three decades of federal patronage of the industry,” the Post notes.

“And for what? Ethanol, which comes almost entirely from corn, doesn’t help the environment much, even as its government-sponsored use puts upward pressure on the price of corn and rural land,” the editorial states.

Regardless, ethanol is not dead. Some conservatives don’t want to repeal the fuel’s tax subsidies because they could be viewed as tax increases, and the White House says it would like to see “new approaches” to promoting biofuels, the Post editorial says.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., one of the sponsors of the anti-ethanol amendment, is negotiating with two ethanol backers Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D.

“Ms. Feinstein shouldn’t have to negotiate at all. Saving money by slashing ethanol supports should be among the most obvious items in any debt deal. President Obama and the House of Representatives should join the Senate in good sense,” the Post wrote.


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