Post image for Ethanol Tax Credit More Likely to Expire

The ethanol compromise did not make it into any debt ceiling negotiations and its future is now looking bleaker than ever before. The Congressional ‘super-committee’ established by the debt ceiling negotiations will have to decide by November 23rd some manner to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion or face potentially unpopular automatic spending cuts to defense and discretionary spending (though USA Today writes that these “threats” have failed in the past). None of the rumored super-committee members seem to be from regions that would require their support of the ethanol industry

The ‘ethanol compromise’ had legs because it funneled money into the domestic ethanol industry while still maintaining a facade of deficit reduction. It would have collected $2 billion in revenue from the ending of the domestic tax credit as of July 21 and used a small amount less than that to spend on items near and dear to the ethanol industry (mainly ongoing support for cellulosic ethanol and money for the installation of blender pumps at fueling stations), hence their support.

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Post image for Wesley Clark on Ethanol

In an appearance on E&E TV, retired General Wesley Clark discusses the future of corn ethanol policy. Transcript here. Given that he is a member of Growth Energy, completely objectivity isn’t expected. However, he makes a number of incorrect statements and supports very poor economic analysis.

CLARK: And so we’re behind in cellulosic because we’ve been artificially constrained in the fuels market, first by the EPA blend wall at 10 percent, which meant there was no market for cellulosic. And then secondly then by the lack of infrastructure to be able to actually go out to the service agent and say, hey, I want to try 20 to 30 percent ethanol blend.

Cellulosic ethanol production is “behind” because its not economical, and investors are aware that the current market for cellulosic ethanol relies almost entirely on a government law that clearly isn’t guaranteed given how difficult it is to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price that is even close to something consumers would want.

Clark also complains about the 10% “blend wall” yet doesn’t acknowledge that the majority of ethanol sold is due to an “artificial” government mandate. I’d gladly end the EPA’s ability to determine what American’s can put in their gas tanks just as I’d gladly end the mandate requiring refiners to blend petroleum with ethanol.

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