June 14, 2011

Nebraska Corn Board supports proposed ethanol legislation

The anti-ethanol, anti-biofuels amendment proposed by a Senator from Oklahoma failed in the Senate today when it fell 20 votes short of cloture. Nebraska Senators Johanns and Nelson both voted nay on cloture, which essentially killed the proposal.

You can read statements from the National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy.

Bart Schott, a farmer from Kulm, N.D., and president of NCGA, said the vote "demonstrates the Senate’s lack of desire to engage in destructive policy making," especially to an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in America during a time of economic uncertainty.

He noted that the ethanol industry has been proactive in its efforts to reform, unlike the oil and gas industry.

The reform Schott refers to is the Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act introduced by Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota yesterday. Nebraska Senators Johanns and Nelson are co-sponsors.

“It is comforting to know that both of our Senators that represent both sides of the aisle understand and appreciate the importance of renewable alternative energy,” Jon Holzfaster, past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, said in a news release. Holzfaster, a corn and cattle producer from Paxton, Neb., is also a member of the board of director’s of the National Corn Growers Association.

The proposed legislation would end the current ethanol tax incentive on July 1 and replace it with a variable tax credit tied to the price of oil. It would also extend the small producer ethanol credit through 2014. The legislation is projected to bring in $2.5 billion in revenues, with $1 billion of that dedicated to deficit reduction and $1.5 billion dedicated to building the ethanol infrastructure.

"This bill exhibits great leadership in finding the middle ground of sound budget policy and visionary support for the ethanol industry when it needs it, along with expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels," Holzfaster said. "We have been far too dependent on foreign crude oil and not aggressive enough on supporting all forms of renewable energy."

Tim Scheer, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board who also serves on the National Corn Grower’s ethanol committee, also complimented Johanns and Nelson in recognizing the investment Nebraska has in ethanol production. Scheer is a farmer from St. Paul.

"Nebraska ranks third in the nation in corn production, second in ethanol production and second in producing distillers grains, a high energy feed for livestock. What’s great about distillers grains is the fact our cattle producers, which rank second in the nation for cattle on feed, can utilize more than 5 million tons of the high protein feed," Scheer said.

He noted that the variable tax credit structure means the tax credit only kicks in when it is needed, providing no credit when oil prices are high and a limited credit when oil prices are low.

"Nebraska’s 24 ethanol plants play a huge role in jobs and rural economic development, plus they generate a significant amount of local, state and federal taxes," Scheer said. "This bipartisan approach is innovative and forward-looking and will help ensure a stable supply of domestically-produced renewable energy into the future."

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