No Surprises Here: The Geography of Ethanol Support in the Senate

Thursday, June 16, 2011
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The debate over ethanol subsidies rages again in the halls of Congress. Today the Senate voted 73-27 in favor of repealing a $6 billion tax credit for ethanol producers. The measure would end a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for ethanol refiners and a tariff of 54 cents per gallon on imported ethanol.

The bill's passage may be a pleasant surprise -- ethanol is, after all, not so great for the environment. But which senators voted in favor of the tax credits is all too predictable (click images for more details):


Senate vote on amendment to end ethanol tax credit. Red indicates votes in favor of ethanol tax credit. Horizontal bars indicate the two senators from a state voted differently. 

As Michael Giberson concluded earlier this year: "If you are among those few people who still believe U.S. ethanol policy is driven by something other than the demands of the U.S. ethanol industry, then you might be surprised. For the rest of us: no surprises here."

(Hat tip to Knowledge Problem)

UPDATE: The WSJ reports that the legislation is not expected to be taken up by the House of Representatives, "possibly limiting the vote to symbolic significance."


Shawn Regan is a research fellow at PERC and the director of outreach and publications. He holds a M.S. in Applied Economics from Montana State University and degrees in economics and environmental science from Berry College. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Quartz, High Country News,...
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