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Ethanol interests spent big in last two election cycles

New research by the Center for Public Integrity has found that political action committees associated with the ethanol industry gave nearly $1 million to 200 Congressional candidates in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. Included in that total was $37,900 to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and $23,125 to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Topping the list, with $38,500, was U.S. Sen. Phil Hare (D-Ill.).

From the Center for Public Integrity:

Ethanol subsidies have returned to the Congressional agenda as lawmakers prepare to consider extending tax subsidies and tariffs for the alternative fuel. The issue has divided elected officials of both parties, with farm state lawmakers generally backing a five-year extension of the 45 cent per gallon subsidy for the fuel made from corn, sugar, and other plant material.

A bipartisan group of 17 senators, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, recently signed a letter opposing the incentives as “fiscally responsible and environmentally unwise.” Last week, another bipartisan group of 15 senators wrote their own letter urging that the Senate renew the ethanol incentives before the end of the year.

Five of the industries top 10 recipients of political donations, including Hare, lost re-election this fall. And even with the large investment, ethanol was dwarfed by the oil industry. For example, over the same period that all ethanol interest donated nearly $1 million, Exxon Mobil’s corporate PAC donated more than $1.4 million.

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