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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Harry Reid Majority Leader and The Honorable Mitch McConnell Minority Leader

Saying that ethanol offers the most effective alternative to foreign oil and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, Senators Kent Conrad and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have gathered signatures for a letter to Senate leaders urging action this year on legislation to extend renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions.

The senators said immediate action is warranted to "provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels."

"Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments," Conrad and Grassley wrote. "This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created."

The senators said that ethanol is the only renewable fuel that is working to reduce U.S. dependence on oil. Domestically produced ethanol displaces millions of barrels of imported oil every year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria and now accounts for almost 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.

Last April, Conrad and Grassley introduced a bill to extend, through 2015, the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, or VEETC, which is also known as the blenders' credit; the small ethanol producer tax credit; the cellulosic producer tax credit; and the ethanol import tariff.

Ethanol is good for rural economies, and a recent study found that the failure to extend the VEETC credit and the secondary tariff would result in the loss of more than 100,000 jobs nationwide and reduce ethanol production by nearly 40 percent.

Conrad and Grassley are longtime advocates for tax incentives for biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Conrad is a senior member of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Grassley is Ranking Member of the tax-writing Finance Committee and a senior member of the Budget Committee.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Kit Bond (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), John Thune (R-SD), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

December 1, 2010

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221 United States Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
S-230 United States Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

We are writing to ask that you make an extension of renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions a high priority on the Senate's legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. Allowing the provisions to expire or remain expired would threaten jobs, harm the environment, weaken our renewable fuel industries, and increase our dependence on foreign oil.

Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments. The price tag for our dependence on foreign oil is likely to rise even higher as the economy recovers. This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created. Congress should demonstrate that it continues to recognize the need to develop domestic, renewable sources of fuel.

Next year the Senate will be in a position to debate alternative legislative proposals for developing renewable fuels, including proposals to invest in biofuel infrastructure. In advance of this debate, we believe that, in an effort to provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels, Congress must act to extend biofuels tax and tariff policies for the longest term possible. We ask that you place such an extension high on the Senate's upcoming agenda.

Sincerely,


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