The U.S. House has passed a budget bill that calls for cuts in federal initiatives designed to boost ethanol use. Monte Shaw of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says it’s disappointing.

“We need a free market at the pump. Our fuel choices should not be dictated to us by ‘big oil’ simply because they got the government to help them with their infrastructure 100 years ago,” Shaw says.

One provision in the bill would cut the federal grant money available for U.S. retailers that install ethanol pumps from $75 million down to just $1.3 million. Shaw says members of the House seem too willing to embrace ideas that “fit on a bumper sticker” rather than “think through” policies that affect the ethanol industry. 

“To cut off funds to bring a choice to consumers that’s domestic, renewable, cheaper, helps with our energy security is really a short-sighted decision by some of these folks,” Shaw says.

The House bill calls for cutting nearly all the money for the “Rural Energy for America Program” which provides federal grants and loans for “clean energy” projects. On Tuesday a bid to cut the subsidy for ethanol fuel failed in the U.S. Senate, with both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators voting against the bid to end the subsidy.  Today, the U.S. Senate voted to end the subsidy, as well as the tariff on imported ethanol.

The House began debating the massive agriculture appropriations bill this week, with a final vote on the package held earlier today.

(This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. after action taken in the House and Senate today.)