While the U.S. House was working on the ag spending bill the U.S. Senate held some key votes on amendments related to ethanol support. An effort to prevent federal investment in ethanol refueling infrastructure was defeated. Representative Ron Kind, D-Wisc., says that's good because the U.S. should do more with blender pumps to sustain the ethanol industry. He says it is a maturing industry that provides a lot of U.S. jobs as well as income for family farmers.
But when it comes to the vote to end the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit Kind has mixed feelings.
"The blender credit that was eliminated in the Senate was primarily benefiting huge, big oil companies and wasn't helping the ethanol industry or the family farms participating in it," Kind said. "But to cut them out at the knees overnight rather than having a period of transition and perhaps doing more with blender buildup in this country I don't think is a very wise approach. It could have adverse economic consequences and could result in more job losses if we're not careful."
Kind agrees with ethanol industry groups that say one of the consequences of bringing an immediate end to the credit would be higher gas prices, which would impact the economy and jobs.
"That's the last thing our consumers can afford right now is higher prices at the pump," Kind said. "We saw what happened when we saw the spike occur a month, month and a half ago, I mean the economy really slowed down and the jobs weren't being created and it's still very soft and we need to be careful with the decision that are being made and what kind of impact it's going to have on job creation in our country."
According to Kind, Congress needs to get more creative when it comes to supporting the U.S. biofuel industry in an effort to wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil. That's why he's working with Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D., on a measure that's similar to the approach offered by Senators John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Kind also believes it's important to focus on the need for a cellulosic breakthrough.