Opposition to the federal government's seemingly single-minded support of ethanol production as a solution to help the U.S. become more energy self-sufficient reached a new boiling point last week, with introduction of a broadly supported bill in the Senate that calls for an end to all ethanol subsidies.
It's about time.
Supported by nearly 40 organizations from across an enormous spectrum of industries and interests, the measure calls for elimination of the 45-cents-per-gallon subsidy that refiners receive for each gallon of ethanol they blend into gasoline. It's an expense that's estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $6 billion per year. The measure was introduced May 9 by Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) and has numerous co-sponsors.
"Ethanol is the only industry that benefits from a triple crown of government intervention: Its use is mandated by law; it is protected by tariffs, and companies are paid by the federal government to use it," said Feinstein. "Ethanol subsidies and tariffs sap our budget; they're bad for the environment; and they increase our dependence on foreign oil. It's time we end subsidies that we cannot afford and tariffs that increase gas prices."
Outcry against ethanol subsidies has grown almost exponentially since they began and now includes not only Democrats and Republicans, but also such diverse bedfellows as environmental activists, food manufacturers, and a variety of nongovernmental organizations. Not surprisingly, dairy groups are part of this contingent. Among them is Western United Dairymen which represents more than 60 percent of dairy producers in California.
"Massively subsidizing the conversion of food to fuel with corn-based ethanol subsidies has harmed California dairy families immensely by making us less competitive in an ever more global dairy marketplace," said WUD president Jamie Bledsoe.