Ethanol’s Federal Subsidy Grab

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, January 8, 2009

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2009 – As Congress and the incoming Obama administration plan the nation’s next major investments in green energy, they need to take a hard, clear-eyed look at Department of Energy data documenting corn-based ethanol’s stranglehold on federal renewable energy tax credits and subsidies. An Environmental Working Group (EWG) report released today uses data from a little noticed analysis buried in an April 2008 report from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The information unearthed by EWG shows that solar, wind and other renewable energy sources have struggled to gain significant market share with modest federal support. Meanwhile, corn-based ethanol has accounted for fully three-quarters of the tax benefits and two-thirds of all federal subsidies allotted for renewable energy sources in 2007. The corn-based ethanol industry received $3 billion in tax credits in 2007, more than four times the $690 million in credits available to companies trying to expand all other forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal power. “With America facing an exploding federal deficit and the crisis of climate change,” report author and EWG Midwest Vice President Craig Cox said, “it defies common sense to continue to lavish billions of tax dollars on corn-based ethanol, a fuel that has failed to fulfill its promises at every turn.” “Corn-based ethanol production, spurred by federal subsidies and mandates, is polluting our nation’s water, eroding our soil and plowing up precious wildlife habitat -- and worst of all is likely contributing to global warming,” Cox said. “As the polluting ethanol industry gets fat at taxpayer expense, proven clean technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal are fighting for support. America needs a truly renewable energy portfolio, and the evidence is mounting that corn-based ethanol will not get us where we need to go.” Go here for the full report -

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG’s farm subsidy database and reports and analysis on the impact modern agriculture has on the environment can be found at

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