U. S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a press conference Thursday that the nation should pursue more effective alternative energy routes than corn ethanol.
He called on the U. S. House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead in cutting subsidies to that industry.
Tester said, because of the cost of production of the alternative fuel, often high because of the input costs of raising corn and the fluctuations in the commodity’s price, it usually can’t compete with petroleum gasoline.
“I am as big a supporter of corn ethanol as there is in Congress, no doubt about it, ” Tester said. “But it can never get ahead of the curve. ”
He said in difficult financial times, the national government should shift its support to other ways to produce alternative fuels in the United States, finding ways to effectively help the economy and reduce dependence on foreign fuels while balancing the budget.
“I think cellulosic ethanol is the future, ” he added.
He also called on the U. S. House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead in cutting the corn ethanol subsidies.
That would save the United States about $3 billion this year, Tester said.
The Senate passed the cuts in a bipartisan vote, 73-27. That vote came just two days after it defeated cutting the subsidy, 59-40, although some of the opponents in that vote objected on procedural issues.
The subsidy eliminated in the Senate vote is a 45-cent-a-gallon credit to oil refiners who blend the corn-based fuel with petroleum gasoline, costing the federal government $5 billion a year.
A proposal to eliminate another corn-ethanol subsidy, which supports the distribution of ethanol, was voted down in the Senate 59-41. Tester voted to continue that subsidy.
Tester also has been a champion for developing other alternative fuels, including the oilseed camelina, which grows well in Montana.