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Ethanol lobbyist sees little shift in policy from GOP wave

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association,
told reporters Wednesday that he doesn’t expect a major shift in support for
ethanol after the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the
November 2 election.

“Will that have a meaningful impact on the U.S. ethanol industry?  I believe the answer to that is No.  

Ethanol is not now, nor has it ever been a partisan issue,”
Dinneen said.

The industry had bipartisan support when the
Renewable Fuel Standard was passed under Republican leadership in 2005, he
said. And that continued when a Democratic Congress expanded the renewable fuel
mandates in the 2007 Energy Bill toward the end of the Bush Administration.

Dinneen said several strong supporters of ethanol were
defeated, including Democrats Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota and
Earl Pomery of North Dakota. But many in both parties remain in Congress. And
some new faces are, too.

“Does anyone believe that Kristy Noem (R‐SD) will not be a strong voice for ethanol?”
Dinneen asked, referring to the Tea Party-backed candidate who replaces Herseth
Sandlin next year.  

During a campaign debate in October, both South
Dakotans expressed support for the industry.

When asked if he thought other new Tea Party
members of Congress will be supportive, Dinneen said, “That remains to be
seen.”

He argues that fiscally conservative members of
Congress are likely to be supportive of ethanol when they learn that its effect
on corn prices reduces the cost of farm programs as well as making the U.S.
more energy independent.

“I don’t think the Tea Party members want to
export jobs or energy security more than anybody else does,” he said.

Still, Dinneen and other members of the ethanol
industry are pushing to get the current ethanol tax credit that expires on
December 31 renewed by the Democrat-controlled lame duck session of Congress
that starts November 15.

“The most important thing is to not let the tax
incentive expire. I don’t want to see plants shut down. I don’t want to see
jobs lost,” Dinneen said.

Dinneen 
said he would prefer keeping the tax credit at its current level of 45
cents a gallon for pure ethanol but that the size of the credit is less
important than getting a credit extended.   

 

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