The ethanol industry, long a source of controversy within the green movement, was granted a sort of reprieve when the House voted on the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill. House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn) looked out for the industry's best interest, but sensing trouble the industry has hired two new prominent lobbyists to make sure the Senate continues to protect corn fuel--despite the environmental consequences. E&E; is reporting that Growth Energy, a big ethanol lobby, has hired Anne Steckel, a former aid to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip and a backer of ethanol, as director of government affairs, and Ted Monoson, a former aid to House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), as director of legislative affairs.
Formed last fall, Growth Energy is the lobby for six big ethanol makers, including the largest biggest, Poet, out of Sioux Falls, S.D.
As the House energy bill (Waxman-Markey) moves to the Senate, ethanol producers fear that they will get their subsidies and preferred treatment taken away. Peterson won a big victory for ethanol when he got the EPA to stop calculating a fuel source's total carbon footprint before deciding if it merits incentives. Peterson also wrestled away certification of offsets from the EPA to the Ag department.
The 2007 energy bill, which raised fuel efficiency for cars for the first time in a generation, expanded incentives for renewable fuels but also stipulated that biofuels had to have a smaller carbon footprint than petroleum products. But guess what? Ethanol is a net energy-loser, so it needs champions in Congress to keep it viable.