WASHINGTON — Joining other Oklahoma lawmakers who have attacked federal ethanol policy, Sen. Tom Coburn introduced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to eliminate billions of dollars in tax breaks for production of the corn-based fuel.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the 45 cents per gallon credit given to blenders of ethanol is “bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy.”
“The $6 billion we waste every year on corporate welfare should instead stay in taxpayers' pockets where it can be used to spur innovation, stimulate growth and create jobs,” Coburn said.
He cited a Government Accountability Office report released last week that deemed the credit — set to expire at the end of this year — unnecessary to ensure demand for domestic ethanol.
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said ethanol was part of the solution at a time of rapidly rising gas prices.
“If recharging our economy is a top fiscal and economic priority for these senators, then job one should be redirecting the $1 billion a day we spend on foreign oil back into the U.S. economy,” he said.
The bill authored by Coburn and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, quickly earned the backing of several environmental and other interested groups, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
History of disapproval
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has criticized the nation's ethanol policy, including the biofuels mandate, for years, charging that it has caused food shortages in some parts of the world by diverting corn to fuel production.
Inhofe and Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, have been working to block a recent Environmental Protection Agency ruling that would allow fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol for newer vehicles. The current limit is 10 percent.