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Shimkus pushes to extend tax credits for ethanol industry

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2010 - U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, has partnered on a bipartisan bill to extend tax incentives for the nation's ethanol industry.

Shimkus joined Rep. Earl Pomeroy, a North Dakota Democrat, in introducing legislation to extend the "volumetric ethanol excise tax credit" (VEETC), the "small ethanol producers tax credit" and the tariff on imported ethanol for five years. The bill would also extend the cellulosic ethanol production tax credit for three years.

Citing a study by the Renewable Fuels Association -- a trade association that represents ethanol producers -- the congressmen say that allowing the VEETC credit to expire would cost 112,000 jobs in the U.S. ethanol industry and reduce domestic production by 38 percent, a void that would be filled by imported fuels.

Shimkus released this statement on the legislation: "I have been a long-time supporter of renewable fuels. Extending the ethanol and cellulosic tax credits helps give much needed certainty to the industry and will continue to help our nation's energy security."

The measure had 27 additional co-sponsors in the House and was applauded by the National Corn Growers Association and domestic ethanol producers.

Brazilian producers of sugarcane ethanol criticized the legislation, saying it would continue a trade barrier against imports that would benefit Americans. The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association said in a statement: "It is ironic that Congress allows oil from nations hostile to America into the country tariff-free, but is more than willing to punish clean energy from Brazil, a long-standing democratic ally."

The United States is the world's top producer of ethanol; Brazil is the world's second-largest producer.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.