Nathanael Greene, Director of Renewable Energy Policy, New York City

This afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) to end the main corn ethanol tax credit, known as the VEETC, and the ethanol import tariff immediately. The amendment will end three decades of subsidies to the corn ethanol industry and save taxpayers several billion dollars.

In today’s partisan political climate, this 73-27 vote stands out as a truly extraordinary showing of bipartisanship and a decisive rejection of the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize yet another dirty fuel.

The VEETC isn’t just wasteful and redundant, costing taxpayers $6 billion this year alone and getting almost nothing in return in domestic ethanol production or industry jobs above and beyond what is already mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard, but it moves the country in the wrong direction. By subsidizing the best and worst gallons of ethanol, the VEETC comes at the expense of developing the new and cleaner advanced biofuels we need to create jobs, increase our energy security and address global warming.

The Senate’s bipartisanship on this issue mirrors the broad and diverse coalition of business associations, taxpayer advocates, hunger and development organizations, agricultural groups, free-market groups, religious organizations, environmental groups, budget hawks, and public interest organizations that have all come together to end subsidies to the mature and polluting corn ethanol industry once and for all.

Today’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and the environment. The message from Senators on both sides of the aisle was clear: U.S. taxpayers will no longer tolerate being forced to line the pockets of big oil companies and old corn ethanol plants while getting nothing in return but dirtier air, dirtier water, and higher prices at the grocery store. 

We urge Congress to get a final bill to the President’s desk that ends the VEETC immediately. But regardless of what happens in the coming weeks between the Senate and House of Representatives, today’s vote made clear that the VEETC's time is over. 

Now is the time to move beyond corn ethanol and start having a rational discussion about the policies we need to support next generation fuels. Today’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and the environment and an important step in that direction.

Photo by Keattikorn.