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Midwestern senators counter colleagues’ bid to kill expiring ethanol tax break

A bipartisan group of Corn Belt senators — led by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDem senator seeks more time for 'due diligence' on Sessions nomination Senate sets date for hearings on Sessions's attorney general nomination Mnuchin, Price meet with GOP senators MORE (R-Iowa) — are calling on Senate leaders to extend federal ethanol support that’s slated to expire at year’s end.

“We are writing to ask that you make an extension of renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions a high priority on the Senate’s legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. Allowing the provisions to expire or remain expired would threaten jobs, harm the environment, weaken our renewable fuel industries, and increase our dependence on foreign oil,” states a Nov. 30 letter to Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid: Comey should be investigated in wake of Russia report Spokesman: NY Times ignored Reid's comments in pre-election story on Russia Senate passes dozens of bills on way out of town MORE (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRepublican wins La. Senate runoff in final 2016 race Heitkamp is Trump's top choice for Agriculture secretary: report Schumer calls for Senate probe into Russian interference MORE (R-Ky.).

Thirteen other senators signed the letter, including Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Tech: Last-ditch effort to get Dem FCC commish confirmed | Facebook's Sandberg on fake news | Microsoft completes LinkedIn deal FCC chairman willing to resign to get colleague confirmed Overnight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality MORE (R-S.D.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.), Mark KirkMark KirkJuan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (R-Ill.) and Al FrankenAl FrankenOvernight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality Lawmakers grill AT&T, Time Warner execs on B merger Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (D-Minn.).

The group has launched what amounts to a political counterstrike against a separate bipartisan coalition that wants the tax credits and import tariffs to lapse.

Here’s the entire pro-ethanol letter:

November 30, 2010
 
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221 United States Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
S-230 United States Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
 
We are writing to ask that you make an extension of renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions a high priority on the Senate’s legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. Allowing the provisions to expire or remain expired would threaten jobs, harm the environment, weaken our renewable fuel industries, and increase our dependence on foreign oil.
 
Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments. The price tag for our dependence on foreign oil is likely to rise even higher as the economy recovers. This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created. Congress should demonstrate that it continues to recognize the need to develop domestic, renewable sources of fuel.
 
Next year the Senate will be in a position to debate alternative legislative proposals for developing renewable fuels, including proposals to invest in biofuel infrastructure. In advance of this debate, we believe that, in an effort to provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels, Congress must act to extend biofuels tax and tariff policies for the longest term possible. We ask that you place such an extension high on the Senate’s upcoming agenda.
 
Sincerely,
 
Kent Conrad
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