In a vote of 40-59, Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) Amendment No. 436 to immediately eliminate the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and the tariff on imported ethanol was quashed. Coburn’s proposal needed 60 votes to move forward but fell short by 20 votes. Shortly after the news hit, the ethanol industry began calling for “real reform.”
“The fight is not over until we achieve real reform for the ethanol industry, but this vote sends a signal that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “For more than a year, Growth Energy has advocated for our Fueling Freedom plan, which would phase out the VEETC in a fiscally responsible way, while redirecting the funds toward ethanol infrastructure build out. Opening the fuels market to ethanol, through Flex Fuel pumps and Flex Fuel vehicles, would give consumers a choice at the pump and allow us to ultimately eliminate all government assistance.”
The industry applauded the Senators who voted to stop the amendment from moving forward. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “This vote demonstrates the lack of appetite for this kind of destructive policy and political gamesmanship. The Senate and the country need to focus on a comprehensive energy strategy that seeks to expand America’s ability to renewably meet its fuel needs.”
Yesterday the ethanol industry joined together in support of another proposal introduced by Senators Thune and Klobuchar. This proposal also eliminates VEETC in its current form but replaces it with a variable tax incentive tied to the price of oil, which hit more than $120 a barrel today, a five week high. This proposal would also allocate funds to improve ethanol infrastructure and supports tax policies for emerging ethanol technologies.
“This vote is a major victory for the biofuels industry and American consumers and a setback for those clinging to our status-quo dependence on oil,” added Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “It proves political stunts aimed at ethanol won’t be tolerated in the U.S. Senate. Now we can focus on continuing our work with the White House and both chambers of Congress to support meaningful and responsible legislation to reform ethanol policy.”