Energy bill provides win-win for Ohio

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Somewhere in Columbus a group of Ohio Department of Transportation officials are grinning.

They are not happy because the Ohio State Buckeyes won in overtime on Saturday. ODOT officials - along with residents of our state - are happy because it appears an energy bill expected to pass next week will bring millions and millions of dollars in extra highway funding.

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With the help of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) who sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the two houses of Congress have hammered out an agreement on the energy bill.

Although details of the bill, which is said to cover 1,700 pages, were still being made public Saturday, one change would affect producers and consumers of ethanol.

Ohio uses more ethanol than the national average. The energy bill would change a current ethanol tax break into a credit and funnel the tax collected into a highway trust fund. The result could mean $120 to $175 million in additional funding each year for the state of Ohio.

Although the energy bill contains several other controversial provisions, this particular one is a win-win-win-win for Ohio.

First, the environment wins because increased ethanol use means a cleaner environment and less dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Ohio workers win because increased federal transportation money will mean more highway construction and that means more jobs, less unemployment.

Ohio taxpayers win because additional funding will mean better highways without having to pay additional taxes.

Ohio farmers will benefit since their crops will continue to gain in value as ethanol production rises.

The energy bill, coupled with a pending federal highway bill that, if passed, would provide billions of dollars to the state, is definitely a great thing for our state.

We salute Sen. Voinovich for his leadership in helping push this bill through. His work is making us smile with the same enthusiasm as those ODOT officials in Columbus.