For ethanol interests, the United States Senate was a cauldron of confusion this week. In rapid succession, the Senate voted to keep ethanol tax credits through the end of the year, to repeal those tax credits immediately, and then to allow federal funds to assist in the installation of ethanol refueling infrastructure like blender pumps.  Pundits, ethanol advocates, and many others are now trying to make sense of what happened and where the debate goes from here.

In a recent blog post, the Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen provides some insight into the votes this week and what it may or may not mean.  Dinneen's blog can be read at The E-Xchange, and is also pasted below.

The RFA continues to support transitioning and transforming the current tax incentive and will work with lawmakers in both chambers to craft a policy that does so in a fiscally responsible and forward-looking manner to ensure America's ethanol industry continues to evolve.

Dinneen's post in its entirety is as follows:

If there is one thing for certain in Washington, it is that nothing is ever as it seems.

That has certainly been the case this week with three votes on ethanol that would leave the uninitiated fairly confused about where the US Senate actually stands with regard to ethanol. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 59-40 against an amendment to eliminate the ethanol tax incentive program. On Thursday, the Senate reversed itself, voting 73-27 in support of the very same amendment. Then, just a half hour later, the Senate defeated another anti-ethanol amendment that would have restricted federal funding for blender pumps. Huh? Make up your minds!

The fact is there are distinct messages in each vote, and support or opposition to ethanol isn’t necessarily at the heart of any of them.

The Tuesday vote was about process. Senators were justifiably frustrated by the parliamentary gymnastics Senator Coburn used to bring his amendment to the floor. The amendment was not germane to the underlying bill. It was going to be subject to a constitutional challenge because it was a revenue title not originating in the House of Representatives. And, the Senator took the unusual step of filing for cloture on an amendment, rather than the underlying bill, and he did so himself, despite tradition dictating that is a privilege reserved for the Leadership. Many senators resented the aggressive tactics used to hijack the Senate floor in pursuit of Senator Coburn’s transparently Big Oil agenda.