Peterson: Leave ethanol alone, or I’ll nuke Waxman-Markey
House Ag committee chair Collin Peterson (D.-Minn.) has already made it clear that he’s furious that the EPA has proposed a framework for assessing the greenhouse gas footprint of ethanol. Now he’s vowing to use his clout to crush the historic Waxman-Markey climate change bill, unless Congress passes a bill that would revoke the EPA’s proposed rules. Here is the Saturday Agriculture Online:
Friday, the ag committee chairman, Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), told Agriculture Online that he will work to defeat any climate change legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives until his “Renewable Fuel Standard Improvement Act,” becomes law. And he has let the House leadership know how he feels.
“I’ve told them I want this passed. I want it signed by the President before I’ll support anything else,” he said Friday in a telephone interview from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The man seems quite serious; he has entered vote-counting mode, and is planning to collaborate to shoot down Waxman-Markey with Republicans who oppose it on principle. According to Ag Online, Peterson …
… thinks he may have enough votes to defeat Waxman’s bill when the full House votes on it. Peterson’s bill that reins in the EPA has the backing of his committee’s top Republican, Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, all 29 Democrats on the committee, and by Monday, probably most of the Republicans. As of Friday his bill had support from a few other House Democrats, with 42 co-sponsors joining Peterson and Lucas in opposing the EPA. House Republicans are expected to vote as a block against the climate bill, anyway. So Peterson said he’ll need 37 Democrats to defeat the climate bill.
Forget that the $5 billion+/year federal ethanol program has often been marketed by its legislative champions as a climate-change remedy. Forget that the assumptions behind the EPA’s proposed framework are extremely generous to the industry; and forget that the framework won’t directly effect corn-based ethanol, which is grandfathered in by the 2007 Energy Act.
As I wrote last week, Peterson appears to be frightened that if the EPA goes on record admitting that corn-based ethanol is an ecological bust, the industry could be penalized by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade scheme. He also no doubt wonders how long ethanol’s champions can maintain $5 billion-plus per year in federal support, if the main environmental agency considers it a net greenhouse gas emitter. As a result, he’s essentially mounting a jihad against the EPA’s ability to assess and regulate the corn-based fuel.
People who champion corn-based ethanol as a “bridge” to a cellulosic future can take little comfort from the Congressman from Minnesota. Just last year, Peterson wondered aloud whether cellulosic “would ever get off the ground,” and declared it at least 10 years away from viability.