House Cuts Ethanol Blender Pump Funds

While an amendment to cut federal funding for ethanol blender pumps failed in the Senate, another one passed in the House. The amendment, offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to the Agriculture Appropriations bill passed by a vote of 283-128.

As the sun sets after a busy day on Capitol Hill for ethanol interests, the question is whether any of votes will matter in the long run. “This House bill is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, and the provision included by Rep. Flake was defeated in the vote on the amendment offered by Sen. McCain,” said the Renewable Fuels Association in a statement. “It remains our hope that lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol will now take up a serious conversation about American energy policy. Any discussion must include domestically produced renewable fuels like ethanol.”

Meanwhile, groups opposed to ethanol are pleased with the actions in both the House and Senate. A coalition that includes food retailers, poultry organizations and environmental interests called it “a tremendously important day in our fight to end the taxpayer-funded subsidies for corn-based ethanol” and applauded the votes “as the start of a new era for U.S. biofuels policy.”

8 thoughts on “House Cuts Ethanol Blender Pump Funds

  1. How can the advanced biofuels “chicken” develop without the “egg” of corn ethanol? The only “new era for U.S. biofuels policy” I see is fewer choices at filling stations, less mandate for FFVs and other alternative fuel vehicles, and more fuel industry dominance by the status quo interests.

    Meanwhile, the price of all commodities, including food, will rise with the price of oil.

  2. If we could only get out the message the the intermediate blends like E30 have the most to offer for both efficiency and emissions, could we can the additional support needed.

    Ethanol has double the octane / performance value for direct injection vehicles yet no one in the ethanol industry wants to listen.

  3. That is correct. Decreasing renewables will increase oil use and oil prices, driving food prices higher. Higher prices for everything increases the taxes people pay for these goods. Not a very conservative stance, one should note. I wonder if some of these politicians who call themselves conservative have taken the moment to consider all the new taxes people have to pay when all of their goods go up in price.

  4. Decreasing renewables will increase oil use and oil prices, driving food prices higher.

    Bob~

    True, but why can’t renewables succeed without taxpayer-funded subsidies and mandates? If they are a good thing, surely they are capable of building their own markets and succeeding on their merits.

    It’s long past time to takeoff the expensive training wheels. Ethanol and other renewables just might be surprised at how well they can succeed once they’ve been weaned off the public nursing bottle.

    What those such as Dineen and Clark must do is build a market for ethanol on its merits — not one based on lobbying and politics.

  5. I’m with Steve_V;

    There should be talk of what can be accomplished with E20 and E30 (like shown in the study done here: http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACE_Optimal_Ethanol_Blend_Level_Study_final_12507.pdf

    Even better is the Ethanol Enabled Direct Injection engine designed by Cohn et al, at MIT that gets 30% BETTER fuel economy than typical ICE on gas, using 5% ethanol. The cost for this technology? $1,000 to $1,500, or about one third to one fourth the cost of a typical hybrid.

    The Government (Steven Chu) continues to pretend they don’t know about this engine but Ford Motors gave the Dept of Energy (and an SAE conference) a presentation on this engine (they built a prototype which confirmed the computer modeling data provided by the MIT designers) in 2009: http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2009/06/sneak-peek-ford-bobcat-dual-fuel-engine.html

    But there seems to be no interest in D.C. in promoting this engine by offering a tax credit to anyone buying one.

    More importantly, the Government could facilitate Ford and others building this engine if they showed some REAL interest in getting more Blender Pumps out there. THEN Ford would consider the sales potential of this engine tangible enough to start building it.

    If every car on the road was equipped with this engine we would achieve a 28% reduction in fuel consumption with only 5% of the fuel supply from ethanol. Any ethanol we made above 5% of the total fuel supply, would displace gasoline by blending and add to that 28%!

    This would also mean a 28% reduction in GHG emissions vs a gasoline ICE. Keep in mind that is 28% reduction using 1/20th a gallon of ethanol. So, for one full gallon of ethanol, the GHG emissions would represent a 560% reduction vs a gallon of gasoline. NOT BAD!

    This engine needs to be talked about all over the web. Maybe somebody will finally say: “Hey, you know, this is a Great Innovation. Why aren’t we pursuing it!”

    It’s better than waiting 20 years for an appreciable impact from Hybrids and PHEVs. Actually, I don’t think Global Warming is going to pause for 20 years while we slowly build up the number of electric vehicles on the road.

  6. But there seems to be no interest in D.C. in promoting this engine by offering a tax credit to anyone buying one.

    If the engine has the advantages you say, why would anyone need a tax credit to convince people to buy it?

  7. Dennis,

    It’s because the petroleum market has been hugely subsidized for decades, and continues to be so today. Biofuels are merely (and at a much lower level) catching up on some of the support that petroleum has enjoyed for so many decades.

    There is not a level playing field. If the biofuels supports are removed, they are then competing against subsidized petroleum (not just the subsidies they receive each year, but the cumulative effect of the prior decades of subsidies).

    Biofuels do not even require the massive military subsidies to keep the Middle East under our thumb!

    To level the playing field, petroleum subsidies must be ended today (including military intervention, and including making the petroleum companies pay for the cumulative social health costs involved with numerous types of pollution). As well, biofuels supports must continue for a similar duration as have the petroleum supports in the past. If one feels a need to continue the military intervention, then at least send a similar-sized (hundreds of billions of dollars) of support over to the biofuels side of the market. At least Americans won’t be dying by the thousands to supply the biofuels.

    Then the fuels can compete on a level playing field in a truly free market.

    To deny the massive supports that petroleum has enjoyed for many decades, would be uncalled for.

  8. The engine Bill H touts has nothing to do with either direct or indirect petroleum subsidies. If it’s truly innovative and offers all the advantages Bill claims, it will find its way into the market — without the need of subsidies as an incentive.