Effort to repeal blenders credit stalls in Senate

By Kris Bevill | March 30, 2011

Sen. Tom Coburn, R.-Okla, lashed out at fellow senators on March 30 for placing holds on an amendment he recently introduced to immediately repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, stating that he plans force a vote on his amendment at his earliest opportunity.

“At a time when our nation is facing a debt crisis, it is an outrage the Senate won’t even allow a vote on my amendment to eliminate the ethanol corporate welfare subsidy and save taxpayers nearly $5 billion,” he said in a statement. “Ethanol is a case study of how parochialism trumps progress in Congress. Sooner or later, the Senate will take a vote on this issue.”

Coburn first introduced the blenders credit repeal in early March as a bill co-authored with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. He then offered it as an amendment to the Small Business Reauthorization Act on March 15. The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association sent a letter of support to Coburn on March 30, stating that the group has a long history of opposing mandates and subsidies and that it believes VEETC is especially unnecessary given the blending requirements mandated in the renewable fuel standard.

The ethanol industry has been heavily outspoken against immediately repealing the ethanol tax credit, but agrees that reform is likely. President Barack Obama addressed the topic during a March 30 speech to introduce the administration’s long-term energy policy, stating “we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today’s challenges and save taxpayers money.” The Renewable Fuels Association said it supports this plan, but cautioned against backlash from ethanol critics. “Efforts to slow, stall and squash the continued growth and innovation in American ethanol production, like those offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, must not be allowed to succeed,” RFA President Bob Dinneen said. “Those efforts only lead to higher prices at the pump and bigger bank accounts for OPEC.”