When conservation organizations banded together to fight a decades-old subsidy for corn ethanol, lawmakers took notice. When those advocates joined forces with fiscal conservatives, taxpayer advocates, hunger and development organizations and agricultural groups, lawmakers made changes. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit paid oil companies to blend ethanol into their gasoline – something they were already required to do under federal law. Yet the subsidy persisted, despite annual calls to do away with the wasteful spending.
This “strange bedfellows” coalition succeeded in finally persuading Congress to let VEETC expire at the end of 2011. Pairing winning messages with credible messengers, the groups succeeded in winning over members of Congress from across the political spectrum: conservatives with a fiscal argument, conservation-minded liberals with the impacts to air and water, and populists by focusing on the impact of corn ethanol subsidies on food prices.
Resource Media helped conservationists coalesce around the anti-VEETC opportunity and identify potential allies for campaign. We supported the new coalition’s outreach to lawmakers and journalists, developing fact sheets and other press materials. We helped keep the wide-ranging groups stay on-message and provided real-time advice on when, and how, to pursue media coverage in order to frame the public narrative around the policy debate and ultimately influence the outcome.
Corn ethanol production requires huge amounts of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizer, and using food crops for fuel contributes to food shortages while driving up food prices. Eliminating VEETC knocked out the single most significant financial support for corn ethanol, while saving taxpayers around $6 billion per year.