Sens. Amy Klobochar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) and ethanol opponent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are pushing for an immediate end to a tax credit for ethanol, and supporting shifting some of that money to debt reduction.
The trio has proposed diverting $1.3 billion of the money remaining for the tax break for the corn-based fuel to help pay down the nation’s trillion-dollar debt; and $668 million will be used for incentives for the ethanol and biofuel industries.
The proposal would end the tax credit on July 31 instead of Dec. 31, if the compromise is accepted by the White House and the House of Representatives. The Senate voted last month to end the $5 billion subsidy, but the fate of legislation to which it is attached, a bill renewing a federal economic development program, is uncertain.
Congressional support for the ethanol industry has waned, as lawmakers question why the industry still needs help after three decades of government assistance
And critics charge that ethanol subsidies are no longer needed for an industry that is already supported by a mandate from Congress that requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels into automobile fuel by 2022.
Klobuchar acknowledges it’s time to find alternate ways to boost production without spending as much taxpayer money.
“The better thing to do is to end it now and go on a more prudent course going forward,” she says.
Ethanol groups praised the agreement Thursday.
“This proposal will benefit consumers at the pump, reduce our dependence on foreign oil by investing in next-generation biofuels, and make a significant contribution to reducing our nation’s budget deficit,” says Tom Buis, the head of Growth Energy.