McCain pulls amendment targeting ethanol pump money

By Kris Bevill | October 20, 2011

The ethanol industry is taking partial credit for the swift removal of a Senate amendment that would have prevented any agriculture-related appropriations funds from being used for ethanol infrastructure. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed the amendment  to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012 on Oct. 17, but withdrew it on Oct. 19 because of timing issues, according to his spokesman.

The ethanol industry claimed victory and said the senator’s decision was helped along by its supporters.

“Thanks in part to grassroots phone calls, emails and other outreach from ACE members, Sen. McCain withdrew his amendment to prohibit federal funding for blender pumps,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “Now we can continue to encourage Congress to focus on forward-thinking energy policy such as promoting more blender pumps, flexible fuel vehicles and consumer fuel choice.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, called McCain’s amendment “ill-conceived” and said removing federal support for ethanol infrastructure would have served to strengthen the role of foreign oil in the U.S. economy. “While the withdrawal of this amendment is an important milestone, we will continue to encourage Congress to oppose any other effort that would erect new barriers to the market,” he said.

This was the second time McCain has proposed to eliminate federal funding for ethanol blender pumps and storage tanks. He proposed a similar amendment proposed in June and was defeated by a vote of 41-59. And while he may have relented before a vote this time, his spokesman assures that the senator is not dropping the subject completely. “It’s an issue that’ll be addressed going forward,” he said.