Where the GOP 2012 candidates stand on ethanol subsidies

Those eyeing the Republican nomination for president in 2012 differ on whether to phase out the $5 billion spent a year on ethanol subsidies — something that could risk alienating Iowa voters.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is testing the long-held notion that presidential candidates who oppose ethanol subsidies will be trounced in the corn-rich Iowa caucuses.

“The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out,” Pawlenty said Monday at his formal campaign announcement in Des Moines. “We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly.”

But two of his rivals have a history of supporting them. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was for ethanol subsidies when he ran for president in 2008. And Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, is a supporter.

“Given the choice Gingrich would much rather have money going to Iowa farmers and the people who work to produce bio-fuels here in the United States than to unstable regimes in the Middle East including those who seek to destroy us,” Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said.

Others who say they are for doing away with subsidies include former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whose campaign said he supports phasing out the 45 cents per gallon ethanol blender’s credit over the next five years.

“Over these 5 years, Senator Santorum believes we should then invest 4.5 cents of that annual reduction in infrastructure for flex fueling stations to expand market access for biofuels,” his spokeswoman, Virginia Davis, said.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has long been an opponent of ethanol subsidies.

“We are sure to see increased calls from political opportunists for eliminating ethanol subsidies, but Dr. Paul was against ethanol subsidies before it became politically advantageous,” said Gary Howard, a spokesman for Paul.

Another libertarian-minded Republican candidate for president, Gary Johnson, is against “unnecessary farm subsidies,” according to his website.

Representatives for former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain did not respond to requests for comment.

  • bigdave

    ETHANOL will DESTROY your gas mileage! My car got 34 in Ca and only 26 in Fl(10% ethanol added to gas), a loss of 8 mpg hwy!! 144 miles lost per tankfull and THIS is supposed to BENEFIT US?!My new truck, in FL, gets 6 mpg LESS than rated, 168 miles LOST per tankfull!! Whats going on here and WHO is stuffing their pockets with CASH?! Ethanol also destroys the motor in your car, truck, boat or lawn mower!! Just ask the mechanics!!

    • thephranc

      Ethanol also damages the engine internally giving it a shorter life span. Drastically shorter in older engines that have valve seals and other “rubber” parts that aren’t ethanol safe.

  • chicagochuck

    Cain is on record saying that Iowa does not need ethanol subsidies and that the ehtanol mandate needs to be lifted. He stated, rightly, that farmers won’t be hurt becuase there is plenty of demand for corn and wheat based on the global famine that is hitting places like the Mid East. Most of Cain’s positions can be found by listening to archives of his radio show in Atlanta.

  • Ajohn

    The bottom line for both repubicans and democrats is to say what least offends the audience, in this case, at this moment, it’s Iowa. When the pols travel to the west, their message will be different. The fundemental problem is rather than do the right thing for the USA, our leaders play the popularity game and we all lose.

    And in Iowa who would really lose if corn were used for food? My guess the big losers would be the giant agri-businesses who get subsidized. It’s not like farmers could not sell their corn. This whole ethanol deal is bizarre

  • LoboSolo

    It’s time to end ethanol subsidies. For alternative fuels, the focus should be on methanol which is already available at price that is cheaper than gasoline per BTU … without a subsidy. Further, methanol can be made from almost any biomass or natural gas.

    All you need is an FFV … flex-fueled vehicle.

  • zaf214

    Romney remains #1 in the GOP race. Check out real-time market data for all of the potential nominees:


  • gadsdengurl

    Well Romney, Gingrich and Pawlenty never stood a chance anyway. Huntsman is purely a Demo in disguise and it’s true.. Ron Paul is the only one that is for the people.

    I”m sure Bachmann is too.

  • steebo77

    Why no mention of Pawlenty’s past shilling for ethanol (as recently as 9 months ago)?

    As governor he mandated a that ethanol content in fuel double, he headlined an ethanol industry group’s event, he went on trade missions to South America to push Minnesotan ethanol, and he publicly favored subsidies.

    • gadsdengurl

      Can you point me to some info on that? I’d like to add that to my research on TPaw.

  • billstanley

    There is a 45 cents per gallon tax credit and a 54 cents tariff. The Congressional Budget Office calculated taxpayers pay a total of $1.78 in subsidies for every gallon of ethanol made from corn.
    Celanese Corp. has announced the development of technology to produce ethanol from hydrocarbon materials … coal, natural gas and petroleum coke can be used. Ethanol from corn has been a spectacularly silly idea. It is heavily supported by the agricultural lobby with a very adverse impact on food prices. If we use all of the corn grown in the U.S. to produce motor-vehicle ethanol, it would amount to 20% of our gasoline demand.
    Celanese will start its production in China … two industrial complexes, each producing 400,000 tons per year from coal. They will provide over 25% of China’s current demand of 3 million tons per year. A 40,000-ton plant will produce ethanol from natural gas in Clear Lake, Texas. http://www.newsandopinions.net

    • Scrap Iron

      Why would ANYONE turn natural gas into ethanol?
      Just use the natural gas as is. All you have to do is compress it.

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