Senate votes to end ethanol tax breaks
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On June 16, 2011, the Senate voted 73-27 to end the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit. This major victory against dirty corn ethanol had strong bipartisan support across the political spectrum, including some of the Senate’s most progressive and most conservative members.
“Senators scored a win for the public and for the environment by voting to end this $6 billion giveaway,” said Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth. “Ending this subsidy will help reduce the deficit, have almost no impact on jobs and limit support for this polluting industry.”
Not only is corn ethanol wasteful and expensive at a time of fiscal uncertainty, but it also harms the environment. Corn ethanol requires vast amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides to produce. These chemicals are dangerous for human health, and the agricultural runoff contributes to an annual hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that in 2011 is predicted to be the size of New Hampshire. Moreover, corn ethanol raises the price of corn and other foods by diverting land resources away from food production, even as many families are already struggling to make ends meet .
Friends of the Earth is part of a broad coalition of environmental, religious, agricultural, hunger, development, and budget groups that oppose the wasteful ethanol credits.
The VEETC amounts to a subsidy of 45 cents per gallon to companies that blend ethanol into gasoline, costing taxpayers a total of $6 billion. Although the tax credits are already set to expire by the end of 2011, the Senate amendment would end the tax credit by July 1, saving billions of dollars. The amendment now awaits action from the House of Representatives.