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Pawlenty on ethanol subsidies: Changes OK, but can’t ‘pull the rug out’ from under industry

WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday that he’s open to changes in ethanol subsidies, but cautioned any change must be undertaken carefully.

“We can’t just pull the rug out from under the industry,” he said, according to a report on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website. “There are going to have to be some changes, but we have to be fair-minded about it.”

Among the prospective GOP field, Pawlenty has been seen as among those more sympathetic to ethanol producers. When governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty signed legislation attempting to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, and supported expansion of E-85 fueling stations. 

Pawlenty was speaking to a group in Collinsville, Illinois, in the southern tip of the state near St. Louis. Ethanol there, like in Iowa, is big business. However, more libertarian voters in the Republican Party — especially in New Hampshire — have criticized prospective candidates like Pawlenty for supporting ethanol subsidies, which they view as government handouts.

Pawlenty on the campaign trail has backed an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, including additional oil drilling in the U.S. When asked about ethanol in March in New Hampshire, Pawlenty said government has a role to play in research and development, but that permanent solutions must be self sufficient.

The former Minnesota governor has frequently used the occasion to hit out at President Obama, accusing him of stalling on or not moving quickly enough on additional drilling projects. Those attacks have increased in frequency as the price of gasoline has risen.

“This is a country that needs to get much more serious about Americanizing our energy sources and doing everything we can to develop our own energy here and add more supply,” he said in an interview earlier this week with a Chicago radio station.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 04/28/2011 - 04:01 pm.

    Pawlenty wasn’t alone is liking E85. Governors Carlson, Ventura and Dayton supported the cleaner-burning fuel, too. That’s one of the reasons why Minnesota has more E85 stations (360+) than any other state.

  2. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 04/28/2011 - 05:42 pm.

    Robert, you really should stop claiming that E85 is a clean fuel, when you know very well that it is much worse for the environment than gas. It only exists because of the ag interests behind it. If it was up to the envronmental interests, those E85 stations would get shut down.

  3. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 04/29/2011 - 07:35 am.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy both agree with us that E85 is cleaner-burning than gasoline in a flex-fuel vehicle. I’m well aware of the pros and cons of the fuel. On balance, compared to gasoline, it produces much less harmful tailpipe emissions than gasoline.

  4. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 04/29/2011 - 09:58 am.

    The tailpipe emissions alone may be cleaner (although that itself is subject to dispute) but the overall emissions caused by the use of corn ethanol are much higher than gas, and the other environmental damaged caused by corn ethanol makes it an environmental disaster. To suggest, as you Robert, that E85 is green or better for the environment than gas is just flat out dishonest. Other than the income it provides the corn ethanol industry, there are no pros, only cons.

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