CASTLETON-U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D)visited the Castleton area June 9 to address the impact of U.S. ethanol subsidies on the marine and outdoor recreation industry in Vermont and beyond. The state's sole Congressman held a brief news conference along the waterfront to discuss the issue and call an end to subsidies.
Welch joined Vermont sportsmen and several local small business owners at Woodard Marine, a boat dealership at the south end of Lake Bomoseen, to call for an end to ethanol subsidies.
At the dockside news conference, Welch said the subsidies cost taxpayers $6 billion annually, drive up food prices and cause damage to small engines such as those used in boats, motorcycles and lawnmowers.
"It simply doesn't make sense for taxpayers to continue subsidizing a mature and profitable industry, especially at a time when Congressional leaders are proposing drastic cuts in fuel assistance, student loans, high speed rail and Medicare," Welch said. "I'm also hearing from Vermonters that ethanol is damaging the engines to boats, chainsaws and lawnmowers. It is high time we end this unnecessary subsidy."
According to Welch, federal subsidies to the ethanol industry currently exist in three forms: a $.045 per gallon tax credit, a protective import tariff of $0.54 per gallon and a renewable energy fuel mandate, which requires the blending of ethanol and other biodiesel in U.S. transportation fuel. These subsidies remain in place despite a General Accountability Office report that questioned the need to subsidize this mature industry
"Ethanol means that people who have the older equipment spend more money to maintain it," said Barbara Woodard, owner of Woodard Marine, a boat dealership on Lake Bomoseen. "This is one more barrier for families that want to head out and enjoy the water."
Welch said he is working in Congress to tackle ethanol subsidies. He is a co-sponsor of the Repeal Ethanol Subsidies Today Act (H.R. 1188), which would terminate subsidies to the industry. He has also written to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R)urging him to allow a vote in the House on repealing these subsidies.