Senate Votes 73 to 27 Against Billions in Ethanol Subsidies

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Big Corn loses its federal sugar daddy

Finally, a bit of good budget news. Yesterday, the Senate voted by substantial majority to end $6 billion in annual subsidies being handed out to the bioethanol industry. As Reuters reports:

The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to eliminate billions of dollars in support for the U.S. ethanol industry, sending a strong message that the era of big taxpayer support for biofuels is ending.

The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law. But it underscores the growing desperation to find savings in a budget crisis that is forcing both sides of the aisle to consider sacrificing once-sacred government programs.

"Ending this wasteful handout would ensure taxpayers no longer subsidize the already profitable corn ethanol industry," Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg said.

The increasingly hostile attitude toward federal ethanol support has added fuel to a steep fall this week in the price of corn, from which most U.S. ethanol is made.

The Senate vote shows the odds are diminishing that the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy the government gives refiners and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol—both targeted in Thursday's vote—will be extended at current rates beyond their scheduled expiration at the end of this year.

With an eye to swing state votes, the White House warned that it would veto the legislation. Subsidizing the turning of food into fuel is a bad idea when world food prices are soaring.

Now let's go after the federal subsidies for nuclear power, solar, wind, coal, and oil.

Of course, Reason has been against bioethanol subsidies for years and years.

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  1. “Now let’s go after the federal subsidies for nuclear power, solar, wind, coal, and oil.”

    And while we’re at it, everything else!?!

    1. Like the cotton subsidies. To Brazil. http://www.time.com/time/natio…..63,00.html

  2. If the subsidy goes away, and the mandate remains, won’t the price of gas increase to make up for the lost subsidy?

    Why would Obama oppose this? I thought he wanted to increase the price of gasoline.

    1. sarcasmic: Yes, you’re right. But getting rid of the subsidies would be a small step in the right direction. Next let’s eliminate the mandate.

      1. Not gonna happen.

        The Obama Administration wants high gas prices, that is why dropping the subsidy passed and he will sign.

        Dropping the mandate would drop gas prices. So neither Obama or the corn-owned members of Congress will support it.

      2. Higher priced gas is a step in the right direction?

        I drive 45 miles each way to work every day and couldn’t disagree more.

        The mandates are what need to go. Once they’re gone there is no way to justify the subsidies.

        1. I say bring the pain.

          The mandates raise the cost of gas, and the subsidies just hide that. So, get rid of the subsidies and see if the mandate stands on its own. My guess is, it won’t.

          1. I agree with you in principle, but I simply cannot afford it.

      3. Well, the tariff on imported ethanol is a lot, so it’s not clear that this will increase the price of ethanol so much as it will encourage a switch to Brazilian sugar ethanol.

  3. As long as the ethanol requirement stays in place, I suppose the heartland will survive.

  4. Didn’t this happen last week?

  5. Nice to know Obama stands firmly in favor of high food prices. I’m finding new reasons every day to despise that rat.

  6. I feel dirty for agreeing with Frank Lautenberg.

    1. If grain corn – not just sweet corn, was a cash crop in NJ, Lautenberg would be singing a different tune.

      Only dairy farmers grow grain corn here as feed.

  7. Amazing that the administration has cost cutting gift wrapped and handed to them they still turn their backs and declare that now is not the time to cut funding, blah blah blah.

    @GaryM said it right. I gotta wonder how many other people are waking up to this guy being nothing but a walking deception.

  8. What will the administration do if the House passes the same bill with a similarly veto-proof majority? Actually, who cares?

  9. With an eye to swing state votes, the White House warned that it would veto the legislation.

    Well, so much for Obama’s “Green” platform. Not that this will change a thing in the eyes of his worshippers.

    1. You’re right, Christ-fag.

      1. You really are a broken record.

  10. Now can we tackle the sugar tariff? Funny how instead of helping local sugar cane producers, it resulted in high fructose corn syrup instead. Like corn-based ethanol, there’s just so much wasted in trying to make corn do what it’s never meant to do.

  11. Ethanol is bullshit, anyway.

    Butanol, on the other hand, is a much better fuel additive. But it, too, should remain subsidy-free.

  12. The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law.

    Wait, what?

    1. Yeah.

      Group 1: Let’s stop shoveling money we don’t have.
      Group 2: Hold on there now, we can’t just stop shoveling money. I’m not going to allow it.
      Group 3: ???

  13. Higher priced gas is a step in the right direction?

    If you want to “encourage” efficiency*, yes.

    * Not to be confused with hysterical AGW carbon bullshit.

    1. Petroleum is the most efficient fuel we currently have. How does making it artificially expensive and diluting it with an inferior fuel encourage efficiency?

  14. The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law.

    With that kind of majority, couldn’t they override a veto?

    1. Not if the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law.

  15. Only if they really meant it, which they don’t.

  16. Not enough.

    End the War on Food.

    Now.

  17. The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law.

    Isn’t it rather depressing that THIS is the kind of shit we’re reduced to celebrating?

  18. I’m all in favor of corn-based ethanol. Sour mash and charcoal-mellowed, served over ice.

  19. yes that’s what passes for good news these days. A completely symbolic vote that will not change anything.

    hope you got a decent amount of ammo stocked up.

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