Romina Boccia

Politicians seem to think that no bill is complete without its fair share of “pork.” Though when applied to the contentious tax deal, it would be more accurate to say that both parties seem to think this bill needs its fair share of corn.

Ethanol subsidies set to expire by December 31st will almost certainly be extended as a part of any deal coming through this Congress, regardless of the negative impacts that those subsidies have on American families’ finances.

While most political pundits focus on issues such as whether extending unemployment benefits in order to reach an extension of Bush tax cuts is a fair compromise, politicians and lobbyists are busily developing more hand-outs to favored industries. In an attempt to preempt potential public outrage over the extension of ethanol subsidies, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is proposing to trim the ethanol subsidy from 45 cents to 36 cents per gallon.

Trimming the destructive and unnecessary subsidy isn’t enough. It's time to scrap the whole darn thing. Ethanol production wastes energy, creates more carbon emissions than it saves, raises the cost of fuel, and raises the prices of nearly all food products a typical American family consumes every single day.

Ethanol was touted as the green fuel of the future which would decrease America’s reliance on foreign oil. While our oil consumption keeps rising, government barriers to oil exploration and extraction are preventing domestic oil production from keeping pace. We currently meet 51 percent of our oil demand by buying oil from abroad at a cost of about $300 billion every year. Our foreign oil dependence is responsible for a major portion of the U.S. trade deficit and reminds us of all the jobs and economic prosperity we fail to create at home.

Yet ethanol subsidies have had no discernible impact on increasing America’s energy security.

Every gallon of ethanol created wastes energy. David Pimentel at Cornell University and Tad Patzek at the University of California, Berkeley estimate that making ethanol from corn requires twenty-nine percent more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel itself actually contains. Additionally, ethanol contains only about two-thirds of the energy contained in gas. That means that a gallon of ethanol-blended gas won’t allow you to drive as far as if you bought straight up gas.


Romina Boccia

Romina Boccia is a Policy Analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum.