Senate Votes To End Ethanol Subsidies

The Senate voted 73 to 27 on June 16, 2011 to repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and ethanol tariff as part of an amendment to S. 782, the Economic Revitalization Act. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) led the effort to end the subsidies. The VEETC is a 45-cent per gallon tax credit for oil companies to blend ethanol with gasoline. Repealing it will save tax payers $6 billion a year.

Environmental groups have long criticized the ethanol industry. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls the ethanol industry a “mature industry that is pressuring farmers to plant environmentally-sensitive land and pushing up food prices that disproportionately affect the poor and hungry of developing countries.”

“The Senate has put American taxpayers and our soil and water ahead of special interests and the corn ethanol lobby,” said Sheila Karpf, a legislative and policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group.

The National Resources Defense Council called the vote a “truly extraordinary showing of bipartisanship and a decisive rejection of the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize yet another dirty fuel.” Referring to the VEETC as “wasteful and redundant,” in a statement the NRDC said the vote “is a victory for taxpayers and the environment.”

From 2005 to 2009, $17 billion was spent in ethanol subsidies, according to an EWG report, Driving Under the Influence. During that time period ethanol blended into gasoline reduced overall oil consumption “equal to an unimpressive 1.1 mile-per-gallon increase in fleet-wide fuel economy.” A gallon of ethanol yields only two-thirds the energy as a gallon of gasoline. “At the national level, this means that the 10.6 billion gallons of ethanol burned in 2009 displaced just 7.2 billion gallons of gasoline,” the report stated.

The report pointed out that making ethanol is energy intensive, requiring natural gas to fire up the boilers at a corn ethanol plant. University of California (U.C.) Berkeley geo-engineering professor, Tad Patzek analyzed the environmental effects of ethanol and found that it takes more energy to produce ethanol than the energy in the fuel.

“In terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution,” Patzek said. “It has the highest energy cost with the least benefit.”

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Robert B.
Robert B7 years ago

It's about time! Now let's get rid of the rest of Big Business handouts.

Deborah C.
Deborah C7 years ago

Thanks for article.

John S.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thanks, good news.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener7 years ago


Dharma Bum
D Hanger7 years ago

Good News...thank you

Craig P.
Craig Powers7 years ago

It's about time - when top execs for Koch Industries (world's 2nd largest private company) are stating the subsidies that they themselves take full advantage of, are poor solutions and should be overturned; chances are that the subsidies are on their way out. Beyond that, corn is a poor resource to allocate towards ethanol production - sugar is far more impressive and cheap; nevertheless, the USA likely wont be able to compete due to their artificially inflated prices on sugar. Realistically, ethanol was a band-aid and unfortunately, the bleeding never stopped. New intensive grants and funding need to focus on fast pyrolysis technology or bio butanol.

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi7 years ago

thanks for sharing

Monica D.
Monica D7 years ago

Wind and solar are better ways to go.

Monica D.
Monica D7 years ago


Coleen W.
Coleen W7 years ago