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Congress Urged to End Multi-Billion Tax Credit for Dirty Corn Ethanol in Lame Duck Session
Environmental group launches online ad campaign to pressure Congress to let wasteful tax break expire
The campaign, titled “Yellow Is Not Green,” encourages the public to help “save tax dollars—and the planet” by pushing Congress to let the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) expire at the end of this year’s lame duck legislative session.
“This is a wasteful subsidy that benefits Big Oil at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. Congress must end it this year,” said Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth. “There's nothing 'green' about corn ethanol beyond the color of the tax dollars Congress hands out to corporations producing and blending it. This lame duck should not lay the rotten egg of another big, wasteful handout to industry by extending the corn ethanol subsidy.”
The VEETC has long been opposed by Friends of the Earth and a diverse coalition of groups. It gives billions of tax dollars each year to gasoline companies like BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell for blending ethanol into consumer-level fuel—despite a federal mandate that already requires them to do so. This year alone, the subsidy cost taxpayers $5.4 billion dollars, and the amount is set to increase if the credit does not expire on December 31.
Ethanol production has detrimental effects on human and environmental health. The production of biofuels feed stocks, like corn for ethanol, takes land away from food crop cultivation and leads to the destruction of natural ecosystems. Large-scale agricultural production of corn for ethanol typically involves massive inputs of fertilizer, requires large quantities of water, contributes to soil erosion, and produces deadly run-off of pollution into freshwater sources—as illustrated by the Gulf of Mexico’s “Dead Zone.” Studies indicate that corn ethanol is also making climate change worse: corn ethanol results in more greenhouse gas emissions than standard gasoline when taking ethanol’s full life-cycle of emissions into account.
Friends of the Earth advocates better approaches to addressing fuel demands, including the use of more efficient vehicles, smart zoning and transportation plans that reduce the need for driving, and the transition to clean energy electricity as a vehicle fuel source.