While not going so far as to say that subsidies to ethanol should be eliminated, Sen. Jeff Bingaman has taken a small step towards energy policy sanity by at least bringing up the possibility of cutting ethanol subsidies. Bingaman is not exactly taking a major political risk here as New Mexico is not a major corn growing state and thus not reliant on ethanol subsidies like Iowa.
In typical Bingaman fashion, even his new-found pro-taxpayer (anti-subsidy) stance is at best mealy-mouthed with Bingaman saying that ethanol is “a mature technology whose market share is protected,” (by Congressional mandate, not economic viability, of course) and that Congress should scrutinize the subsidy and “weigh all factors, including the credit’s very high cost to taxpayers,” (approximately $6 billion annually) before again extending it.
Not exactly bold language from Bingaman, but he is Chair of the Senate’s Energy Committee and thus has a major say on the issue. It would be great to see New Mexico’s senior senator do something positive for taxpayers by eliminating ethanol subsidies. We’ll see if this is just posturing or if Bingaman will fight the special interests.