Colorado’s Senators On Ethanol Subsidies

Having written a couple of times recently about ethanol and ethanol subsidies, see here, this column by the Denver Post’s Vincent Carroll caught my eye:

This is stunning: “Producers of ethanol made from corn receive 73 cents to provide an amount of biofuel with the energy equivalent to that in one gallon of gasoline.”

That’s 73 cents in federal tax subsidies, says the Congressional Budget Office — or 45 cents for every gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline.

Do you suppose ethanol subsidies, totaling more than $6 billion, might be a good congressional target in an era of raging budget deficits?

So he asked Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet about their positions on the subject. 

In typical fashion, Michael Bennet’s response was a wet bag of mush:

Bennet’s spokesman told me that while the senator “doesn’t think we can afford to endlessly pump federal dollars into subsidies for mature energy sources at the rate we have been,” he nevertheless “believes we need a more comprehensive approach that addresses these subsidies, be (they) for biofuels, oil and gas, or nuclear power.”

I guess Bennet hasn’t managed to grow the spine the Post’s editors were pining for when they endorsed him over Ken Buck in October.  Remind me; what, exactly, made the Post think this guy would ever grow a spine?

Senator Udall at least kind of staked out a position:

Udall was more forthright, and interesting. He does not favor “singling out ethanol — with all the implications that might have for many of our rural communities,” unless “we are prepared to abandon all subsidies and federally driven investment incentives designed to strengthen domestic energy production.” (Alas, we’re not.)  But he does oppose “an irrational tariff policy that excludes imports” of ethanol from places like Brazil, Australia and India.
Udall is right about protectionism being a bad thing, in general, but wrong about using ethanol subsidies as just one more way to funnel tax dollars into the coffers of farmers.  The government has no business subsidizing the price of corn by providing massive incentives to grow corn just to turn it into a terribly inefficient, expensive, and wasteful fuel alternative. 
Published in: on December 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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