Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘U.S. Corn Ethanol’ tag

Circling the wagons, the firing squads and the arguments: ethanol wars explode in print, TV

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Among many interesting topics to be discussed here is that UNICA is targeting more progressive outlets with their ads. While it’s fairly clear why progressives may not fall in line with big business in the corn belt, it’s not clear to me that they’ll be very excited about sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, given the rather negative press it’s sometimes received. This isn’t to say that that negative press is true, I’m just curious what more folks think.

Who's on which side, now?

The US corn ethanol industry has been up against it lately. For one, the meat and dairy industries have abandoned their alliance with corn for a partnership with environmentalists,. A second front opened when Brazilian and US ethanol interests split over the ethanol tariff.

The ethanol cold war developed into a hot one this week when television and print advertising campaigns debuted both from Brazil’s UNICA and the US-based Growth Energy.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Ken Green told the New York Times that there’s no mystery in the timing. “Senator Kerry is now saying that they’re going to have an energy bill in the next three weeks. [The ethanol lobbies] want to turn up the heat on what’s in this new energy bill and how it treats ethanol.”

[…]

The UNICA ads will appear, at least through this month, in Roll Call, National Journal, Congressional Quarterly and the website Politico, and will also feature a sponsorship campaign on public radio and the debut of a new sweeteralternative.com website. Total UNICA ad buys are “less than one-tenth” of the Growth Energy budget, according to UNICA’s estimate as quoted in the Times report.

Read the entire article here.

Growth Energy: Brazil Ethanol Import Tariff Cut No Reason to Reduce U.S. Tariff

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If Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis is advocating corn ethanol as a means to energy independence, I simply cannot agree. Corn production under the status quo is far to dependent on fossil fuels for fertilizer production and at many other points along the production chain to wean us off our dependence on imported energy resources.

This is not to say that we should open our economy to Brazilian ethanol. My jury is still out on that question, and I always lean towards local energy independence, but corn ethanol, currently projected to reach 15 billion gallons in 2015, and to remain there at least for the seven years following, is economically and energetically inefficient, and is a poor use of land.

Mr. Buis is correct to point out that the ethanol industry in Brazil has enjoyed significant government support since its inception in the 1970’s, though that support is all but gone today. The Brazilian government supported an industry with the vision of moving that industry to the free market.

The U.S. corn industry, on the other hand, has not only enjoyed more government subsidies and over a longer period of time, but does not show any signs of moving towards the free market.

Finally, having worked with engineers and many others who are developing cellulosic and other bioenergy technologies, I believe that these show great promise as renewable fuels that do move us towards energy independence while also being environmentally friendly and promoting rural economic development. I have yet to hear, however, a valid argument regarding why there is a need for the continued expansion of corn ethanol production as a bridge to this next generation of bioenergy technologies.

Date Posted: April 6, 2010

Washington, DC—Growth Energy, the coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, issued April 6 a statement in response to the Brazilian Government’s announcement that it will remove its tariff on imported ethanol.

“We would not support reducing the U.S. import tariff, despite whatever Brazil is temporarily doing, because Brazilian ethanol already enjoys generous subsidies from the Brazilian government and to provide them access to additional subsidies from the U.S. government makes no sense,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

Read the entire article here.