Corn Ethanol Policy Forum Held in DC

Joanna Schroeder

There have been numerous Senates hearings recently discussing elements of the country’s energy plan. A recent forum on Corn Ethanol Policy took place in the 112th Congress. While the forum was not broadcast, expected to give the opening remarks were Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Representative Earl Blumenauer. Flake’s aniti-ethanol amendment was passed in the House as part of the Continuing Resolution and if passes as part of the Senate Resolution, would prohibit government funds to be used to install blender pumps and ethanol storage facilities.

Also expected to speak were some of the organizations who have been outspoken for several years against the ethanol tax credit (VEETC) that actually goes to the blender of record, not to the ethanol industry, as well as the “food and fuel” debate. These groups included the International Food Policy Research Institute, Environmental Working Group and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The ethanol industry responded to the forum with one voice. The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association and American Coalition for Ethanol released a statement. The organizations also noted that according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, 75 cents of every dollar spent on biofuels re‐circulates through the local economy while 75 cents of every dollar spent on oil exits the local economy and, in most cases, the country.

“Any energy policy forum must include comprehensive and adult conversations about America’s entire energy agenda, including subsidies and other supportive policies for mature and aging technologies like petroleum. Unfortunately, it is unlikely this ‘forum’ will include any of those discussions. Rather, this is yet another example of defenders of the status quo wasting the time of Congress focusing on bogus claims against the ethanol industry instead of finding solutions to the real problems.

“Anyone who has filled a gas tank the last few months has unwittingly witnessed the prime cause of soaring prices for all consumer goods, especially food. The last time corn and food prices rose, the Congressional Budget Office found that factors other than biofuels were responsible for as much as 90 percent of the hike. The World Bank and the government of the United Kingdom have concluded that speculation and energy prices were chief drivers of the 2007-08 spikes in commodity and food prices. How anyone can point fingers at farmers for driving up food prices when they receive less than 12 cents of every food dollar defies common sense.

“Ethanol is the only viable solution we have today to help with our country’s energy security and independence. Today, when it can easily cost over $50 to fill a gas tank, critics would be wise to remember that domestic ethanol actually has helped motorists by lowering gas prices by estimates as high as 40 cents per gallon. To put it in even better perspective, the value of the crude oil displaced by U.S. ethanol amounted to $34 billion in 2010 – money that stayed in the American economy. In the end, that’s the best way to support food and energy security, not through holding make-believe one-sided policy forums.”

ACE, corn, Ethanol, Growth Energy, NCGA, RFA