Corn Commentary

VEETC is Dead. Get Over It.

At the end of the year, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit is set to expire. Renewing it will take more than a miracle – it will take someone who actually wants to renew it. And, frankly, no one does at this point.

That does not stop ethanol opponents from continuing to call for its demise, as if they’ve missed something altogether or stopped reading the news. Three recent examples:

On August 24, the Green Scissors Project, a “left-right coalition” with apparently no voice of moderation, identified ways the federal government could shave $380 billion from the federal budget over five years. Smartly, they identify numerous subsidies for Big Oil that others, mysteriously, want to ignore. But their $380 billion in proposed cuts includes a major error that accounts for more that 10 percent of their cuts — $38.8 billion that they argue VEETC would otherwise cost between 2012 and 2016.

On September 7, Americans for Tax Reform called on Congress to let VEETC expire. ATR is known for pushing its pledge among politicians seeking office, whereby they promise not to raise taxes. When it comes to tax credits like VEETC, ATR has a clear policy stated on its Website: “Signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge commits signers to oppose changes in tax deductions or credits that increase the net tax burden on Americans.” Could one not rationally argue that allowing VEETC to expire, thereby increasing the net tax burden on Americans, violates that proviso?

And this week, a group of 100 various organizations have called on Congress to, snore, allow VEETC to expire. It’s really an eclectic list, with names like Oil Change International, the Association for Dressings & Sauces and the Safe Lawns Foundation scattered amongst the usual incoherent group of ethanol foes. Someone had to compile this list, and it’s a lot of energy wasted on something that is no longer an issue. MoveOn.org, one of the signers, really needs to … well … move on.

On the other hand, the ethanol industry is moving on – and moving forward in great and smart ways. As Matt Hartwig of the Renewable Fuels Association puts it, “Seeing the tax incentive go away has been the singular mission for these groups. While they are focused on the industry and policies of the past, America’s ethanol producers are looking toward the future. They are putting forward ideas and making investments in technologies that improve yields, increase efficiencies, harness new feedstocks, protect the environment, expand the market for renewable fuels and most importantly, create good paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life.”

We could not agree more.