Is Debate Over Ethanol Fueling Bipartisanship?

Posted on April 3, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

EthanolCalls to “explore options,” to “seek input,” to “sit down together,” even to have “thoughtful hearings” coming from both a leading House Republican and Democrat related to the same issue — do voters dare believe their ears?

There seems that something as rare as a Big Foot sighting is taking place on the Hill — bipartisanship — a political phenomenon that is being fueled by ethanol. Specifically, it is the debate about ethanol — a biofuel made from corn and other crops that is blended with gasoline — and the controversial energy policy requiring that more ethanol be used in gasoline each year. Bipartisan alliances have coalesced on both sides of the issue. Democrat and Republican lawmakers representing corn-growing states and the biofuel industry support the five-year old federal mandate that requires an increasing ethanol quota for gasoline each year. Opposing the federal mandate and calling for the suspension of the renewable-fuels standard are Democrats and Republicans representing the interests of the meat and poultry industry, who claim the standards are driving up the cost of feed.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) are the top Republican and Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is responsible for recommending what to do about the controversial energy policy. Both men have openly expressed the need for thoughtful deliberation and, according to the National Journal, have already jointly released a series of white papers on the renewable-fuels mandate.

Those opposed to the ethanol standards argue that the quotas distort the grain market and making corn more expensive — especially when you factor in the devastating impact of the drought — for ranchers and poultry and hog farmers and ultimately driving up the cost of food. On the flip side there are the corn growers — who need the higher prices in light of poor crop yields thanks to the drought — and biofuel refiners, who note that ethanol is a clean-burning, renewable fuel that is helping to wean Americans off of foreign oil.

According to the New York Times the renewable fuel standard requires more than 14 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended with gasoline this year. At the same time gas and oil production in the United States has increased dramatically thereby lessening the importance of foreign oil.

This paced and deliberate approach — making time to consider the views of all stakeholders — being taken by Upton and Waxman clearly makes sense, particularly when so many interests are intertwined. Allowing affected parties to have the opportunity to voice their views and concerns directly to lawmakers is the way a government that serves all should work, must work, and works best.

Here, at Turner GPA, we seek out opportunities for our clients to speak directly to lawmakers and agency heads and when those opportunities arise, making sure our clients are best positioned and well prepared to make their case.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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