Welch Calls Ethanol Attack Ad 'A Washington-Sized Load Of Manure'
Congressman Peter Welch's opposition to a federal ethanol mandate for gasoline has come under fire from a pro-ethanol lobbying group. The ethanol industry has been airing a TV ad that says Welch's position makes him an opponent of renewable fuels.
But the congressman says the ethanol mandate has been bad for farmers and consumers throughout New England.
The ad, by the group Fuels America, opens with photos of Senator Bernie Sanders and former governor Howard Dean in the foreground and a tractor working a field in the background. It then asks this question:
"Why is Congressman Peter Welch circulating a plan written by oil industry lobbyists that protects their profits at the expense of clean renewable fuel? 96 members of Congress who deny that climate change is real have signed on to the Welch plan. Remind Peter Welch to stand up for Vermont values not oil companies and climate deniers."
At issue is a 10-year-old federal mandate that all gasoline contain a 10 percent blend of corn ethanol as a way to reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil.
Welch is backing a plan to reduce and ultimately repeal this mandate. He says he became involved in this issue when constituents came to him and complained that the ethanol-blended gas was ruining many products with small engines including chainsaws, ATVs, lawnmowers and snowmobiles.
"The corn ethanol industry is spreading a Washington-sized load of manure across Vermont. There is simply no place for this kind of corporate-funded deceptive attack ad in Vermont." - Rep. Peter Welch, in his official statement on the ad
Welch says he's been working to repeal the 10 percent ethanol mandate because it's also had a negative impact on farmers and consumers.
"Bottom line ethanol [has] really been a well-intended flop. It's driven up feed prices for our farmers, food costs for consumers," says Welch. "It's done a lot of environmental damage in the corn belt where there's been excessive over planting and it's very energy intensive."
Welch says it's clear that the ethanol lobby doesn't want to lose its federal subsidies and he's a little surprised by the effort that's being waged against him.
"Bottom line, ethanol has really been a well-intended flop. It's driven up feed prices for our farmers, food costs for consumers, it's done a lot of environmental damage in the corm belt where there's been excessive over planting and it's very energy intensive." - Rep. Peter Welch
Meanwhile, the Center for Regulatory Solutions based in Washington D.C., has just issued a report that concludes that the ethanol mandate has cost the economies of the New England states over $6 billion in the past decade. Matt Dempsey, a spokesperson for the group, says that's thanks to the decade old, ethanol mandate.
"Millions of dollars are being lost from the New England region to the corn states as part of a wealth transfer. Essentially the corn ethanol mandate, passed in Washington ten years ago, has proved to be a disaster and it's something that Congress should take a look at."
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is expected to address the issue of ethanol subsidies by the end of the month.