After the Senate's rebuke of ethanol subsidies last week, sacred energy cows appear to be no more.
The Senate voted on Thursday to immediately repeal $5.4 billion worth of ethanol subsidies. It was largely a symbolic vote that shows Washington's appetite for subsidized energy is diminishing in the face of budget constraints and tea party sway. In the wake of that vote, ethanol proponents are ramping up negotiations to reform the industry's federal support. Democrats are calling on Republicans to put oil and gas tax breaks on the table for deficit-reduction negotiations. Republicans, meanwhile, want renewable-energy subsidies eliminated. It appears no sector is safe anymore. Proposals to subsidize other forms of energy, like natural gas-powered trucks and electric cars, face an uncertain future.
What implications does last week's vote on ethanol subsidies have on the ethanol industry in particular and for the larger energy sector? What energy subsidies should Congress consider as part of the overall budget deal? Do proposals for new energy subsidies stand a chance at passage?