• Jun 27, 2011
It's not often that you find environmental writers applauding the actions of Republicans in the Senate, but when 40 Republicans joined 33 Democrats in a bipartisan vote to shut down funding for ethanol subsidies earlier this month, even some on the left were cheering. However, those cheers may be short-lived.

It's not that ethanol doesn't replace oil in American gas tanks (it does) or that burning ethanol is somehow dirtier than burning oil (it's not), but there have long been several concerns specifically associated with using corn as a source of ethanol. While many of the worst charges against corn ethanol haven't held up to detailed scrutiny, there's no doubt about one fact: the $6 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for ethanol production makes it one of America's most expensive alternative energy programs. Advocates for other technologies often feel that most of the dollars are going to corn, while everyone else is shorted.

So, an end to corn subsidies might temporarily increase the price of fuel at the pump just as it could potentially result in improved funding to start up alternatives, including other means of producing ethanol that use less artificial fertilizer. Except, well, that's not likely to happen.

The Senate vote might be considered momentous for the number of Senators on both sides of the aisle willing to stand up against the agribusiness lobby, but it's really pointless in terms of actual results. Ethanol from corn has much more support in the House, so the Senate vote is likely to be dead on arrival. Even if it somehow survived and made it to the president's desk, it would run up against the requirements of the 2007 energy bill, which would mean a whole new round of voting. So, while the Senate vote may allow some on both sides to claim they stood up against the lobbyists, the truth is that it won't change corn subsidies. The Senators know that. So do the lobbyists.

[Source: Mother Jones, Delmarvanow.com | Image: Public Domain]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      Ladson
      • 3 Years Ago
      The politicians in Washington in effect are waging a dirty tricks war on the middle-class American people; because, it will be us who pays. The current crop have little regard for the people, the sooner you understand that the wiser you will be. Large business runs Washington because they are the ones who pay for the elections of the politicians...it's time for an amendment to the laws providing for Public Paid Elections at the national level.
        carney373
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ladson
        Forcing an unwilling public to financially support candidates YOU like? I don't think so.
          Ford Future
          • 3 Years Ago
          @carney373
          No, the alternative is so much better. Allowing the crazy Koch Brothers determine American, Tea Party policy. The Koch's are worth 40 Billion Dollars, and they spend 100 Million to Influence US Elections. That's not one man one vote, that's one DOLLAR one Vote. And what do we get for it? Scientific Denial, and the march of the US to Third World Status. http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html The Koch Wallet Power is like you Carney, taking 100 Dollars out of your pocket, and getting any insane idea you want put into law. Do you want to know how crazy the Koch Brothers are? They fund Michelle Bachmann and Glen Beck, that crazy.
      EVnerdGene
      • 3 Years Ago
      if this bill is stopped in the house, then we need another, even bigger, house-cleaning in 2012
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't give subsidies to that but harvest the s&#t it produce instead, we need clean fuels.
      carney373
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish Blanco was right. However, it's a lot easier to stop a bill in the Senate than in the House. And farm states, and thus agriculture in general, are better represented in the Senate than in the House.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Politics as usual then. Wake me when it's over.