Fiscally conservative Republican Senator, Tom Coburn from Oklahoma continues to ‘keep up the heat’ on ethanol. Coburn wants to repeal the 45-cent a gallon “volumetric ethanol excise tax credit,” ‘VEETC’ for short…and continues to offer amendments to various Senate bills, the latest, a small business bill.
But the 6-billion dollar VEETC is a mainstay of the corn ethanol industry, allowing the fuel alcohol to remain competitive with gasoline.
American Farm Bureau energy adviser Elizabeth Jones:
“VEETC plays an important part of funding, or making ethanol available. But, it also shows commitment on the part of the government that we’ll move forward with other types of biofuels….cellulosic biofuels.”
Ethanol has saved motorists between 7-cents and 50-cents a gallon, or about 24-billion dollars…while displacing more than 360-million barrels of imported oil, valued at 16-billion dollars a year.
Jones argues that despite the savings, times have changed:
“While we’re hopeful that Senator Coburn’s amendment wont’ go anywhere, we also realized that the political landscape is such that it may be a good for ethanol’s opponents to strike, given the fiscal constraints that the government is under.”
The National Corn Growers Association argues that if Coburn’s amendment, still before the Senate, passes, it could mean a 38-percent drop in ethanol production.
Meantime, VEETC faces automatic expiration the end of this year, after Congress extended it for one-year this past December. Jones was asked when that fight will start:
“I think that what you’re seeing now is a precursor for that fight, so, I think to some degree it’s already happening.”