In the waning days of the lame-duck Congress, a bipartisan
fight is brewing over federal handouts to encourage production of corn ethanol, with competing letters urging the
continuation or end of these subsidies.
The 16 senators calling for the
end of ethanol subsidies come from across the political spectrum: From
senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), and Sheldon
Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on the left to Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) in
the middle to Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on the right.
But a group of bipartisan Midwestern senators have
responded with a
letter of their own. The signees include Sen. Debbie Stabenow teaming up
with likely presidential hopeful John Thune (R-S.D.).
evidence from scholars all across the spectrum shows that ethanol subsidies
benefit a well-protected industry at the expense of everyone else. Even green
guru Al Gore wants
the subsidies to end. As a Capitol Confidential
story quotes from one expert:
Contrary to popular belief, ethanol
fuel does little or nothing to increase our energy security or stabilize fuel
prices. Instead, it will increase greenhouse gas emissions, local air pollutant
emissions, fresh water scarcity, water pollution (both riparian and oceanic),
land and ecosystem consumption, and food prices.
Friedman once said that nothing is as permanent as a temporary government
program. But if our newly elected Congress is serious about cutting spending
and removing unnecessary government programs and subsidies, one can hardly
think of a better place to start than corn ethanol subsidies.
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