Energy debate breaks out in Senate hallway

Rockefeller — who is no fan of ethanol and has called it a “waste of money” — replied in good humor: “Well, I am going to tell you what I feel about ethanol, and you are not going to like it.”

Harkin: “Oh, well, now, come on. It’s clean, it’s homegrown.”

Rockefeller: “Yeah, right. Isn’t that the great trick of the Congress — the renewable source of energy — in other words you plant the corn every year? You can only plant coal ... God plants coal every billion years.” (Rockefeller is a strong advocate of his home state’s coal industry.)

From there, before turning back to reporters’ questions, Rockefeller went on to note that ethanol benefits from federal subsidies.

Congress last year extended the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blenders’ credit and the 54 cent-per-gallon import tariff through 2011. But a battle is expected over further extensions — and in the hallways, at least, it has already begun.