Ethanol Compromise Not in Debt Deal

Cindy Zimmerman

The deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and make spending cuts agreed upon by President Obama and congressional leaders includes no mention of the compromise to reform ethanol policy worked out last month in the Senate and ethanol industry leaders are disappointed.

“As this deal calls for a commission and a future budget framework, the possibility still exists for a more comprehensive dialogue about energy tax policy, including how to assure the continued evolution of the ethanol industry to new feedstocks and technologies, how to assure needed investments in vehicles and infrastructure to accommodate higher ethanol blends, and how to end the billions in subsidies and tax preferences still enjoyed by very mature and profitable petroleum fuels,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen in a statement. “With the debt ceiling crisis looking as though it has been averted for now, we hope Congress and the Administration are now prepared to address the nation’s worsening energy crisis, as oil and gasoline prices continue to rise and the nation’s investment in home grown renewable fuels languishes.”

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol, calls it a missed opportunity. “By disregarding reform of the ethanol tax credit as part of this deal, consumers and the American biofuels industry have been shortchanged. It remains frustrating that some elected officials are continuing to protect billions in subsidies for the oil industry, while dismissing efforts to improve consumer choice at the pump.”

House of Representatives passed the compromise bill today by a vote of 269-161. The Senate is expected to pass the bill Tuesday and President Obama has said he will sign it.

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