WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bipartisan group of 15 senators urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to extend critical tax incentives for ethanol use before they expire at the end of this year.

"We are writing to ask that you make an extension of renewable fuel tax and tariff provisions a high priority on the Senate's legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. Allowing the provisions to expire or remain expired would threaten jobs, harm the environment, weaken our renewable fuel industries, and increase our dependence on foreign oil," the senators wrote. The letter was led by Senators Chuck Grassley and Kent Conrad.

Citing America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil and delicate economy, the senators warned that allowing the tax incentives to expire would lead to increased oil imports and job losses. "Our country is spending over $730 million a day on imported petroleum this year, money that often ended up in the hands of unstable or unfriendly governments. … This is not the time to reduce the supply of a domestic source of fuel and place at greater risk the thousands of well-paying jobs that the renewable fuels industry has created."

The senators also underscored the need to extend the tax incentive to provide stability for discussions on responsible reform of current ethanol tax policy and investments. "Next year the Senate will be in a position to debate alternative legislative proposals for developing renewable fuels, including proposals to invest in biofuel infrastructure. In advance of this debate, we believe that, in an effort to provide stability and certainty for producers and consumers of renewable fuels, Congress must act to extend biofuels tax and tariff policies for the longest term possible."

The complete letter including all signatories can be seen here.

This letter comes after an anti-ethanol letter circulated by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jon Kyl that urged the senate to allow the tax incentives expire and jobs created by the ethanol industry to be lost. The Renewable Fuels Association responded to this letter here.

SOURCE: Renewable Fuels Association