Paul Driessen

What am I missing? There must be some aspect of our insane energy policies that I fail to appreciate.

“We the People” just booted a boatload of spendthrifts out of Congress, after they helped engineer a $1.3 trillion deficit on America’s FY-2010 budget and balloon our cumulative national debt to $13.7 trillion.

The “bipartisan White House deficit reduction panel” chimed in with a 50-page draft proposal, offering suggestions for $3.8 trillion in future budgetary savings. The proposal targets $100 billion in Defense Department weapons programs, healthcare benefits and overseas bases. It also proposes a $13-billion cutback in the federal workforce and lining out $400 million in unnecessary printing costs. And yet, amazingly, not even this independent commission was willing to eliminate the $6-billion sacred cow of annual ethanol subsidies. The current 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline automatically expires December 31, as does the 54-cents-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol. So all senators and congressmen need to do is nothing, and beleaguered taxpayers will save six billion bucks.

We can only hope. Unfortunately, renewable fuel lobbyists will try to use the lame duck session to perpetuate the special treatment. The National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, ADM and POET ethanol count as friends incoming House Speaker John Boehner, incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, other influential Republicans and scores of prominent Democrats.

Perhaps if DePuy or Sofamor Danek donates some spinal implants, enough wavering legislators will find the backbone to challenge the subsidizers and ensure a little adult supervision over the budget process. If this election was about anything, it was about ending business as usual, ensuring energy and economic common sense, and not bankrupting the United States. Ethanol and earmarks represent a key litmus test for Republicans and fiscal conservatives. Failure to hold the line will create a rocky road for credibility and progress next year. It should be an easy decision. It’s time for action – or more accurately, inaction.

Federal laws already require that gasoline be 10% ethanol, and EPA has announced that it will now allow up to 15% ethanol blends for cars and trucks built since 2007. These mandates already require that ethanol use increase from 13 billion gallons today to 36 billion by 2022, ensuring profitable markets for corn growers and ethanol producers, without subsidies. Even large corn ethanol producers like Green Plains Energy now say the subsidies are no longer needed.


Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

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