Originally published in the American Feed Industry Association's (AFIA) Washington Wrap-up
By Steve Kopperud, AFIA government affairs consultant
A “full and open legislative process” is how Congress should deal with the future of ethanol federal tax credits and import tariffs, according to a bipartisan letter from 73 House members sent to party leadership last week.
Led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reminded the leaders the blenders tax credit and import tariffs supporting ethanol expire at the end of the year, and the process by which they were extended in the 110th Congress’ lame duck session should not be repeated. During the 11th hour of the 2010 lame duck, the broader tax package to preserve income tax rates – which included the ethanol and other biofuels tax credits – was negotiated between the White House and the Senate, bypassing the House committees of jurisdiction.
Flake and his colleagues said “the ethanol industry has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and been shielded from competition long enough. With Congress considering the renewal of the ethanol industry’s artificial protections later this year, we owe it to taxpayers to consider the future of the federal ethanol supports under an open legislative process free from political maneuvers,” adding the $6 billion in federal support deserves to be “carefully scrutinized.” However, earlier this year Flake successfully offered an amendment to the House version of the FY2012 spending package that blocked federal funding of flexfuel blender pumps, but that amendment did not survive House-Senate reconciliation of the package.
The Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) condemned the House letter, calling it “ironic” Congress is not going after “billions of dollars…(in federal tax support for) oil, coal and other dirty energy industries,” adding this latest volley in the on-going battle over ethanol supports “puts politics before policy.”