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Archives: 2010

Lame Duck Congress Goes from Bad to Worse on U.S. Ethanol Policy

by Joel Velasco on Dec 03, 2010

Some in Congress are intent on making a bad situation even worse. Despite calls from across the country – including 67 newspaper editorials, over 80,000 letters from clean energy advocates, and opposition from a bi-partisan group of Senators and one of the broadest coalitions imaginable – lame-duck lawmakers are pushing ahead with ethanol earmarks. The plan would charge American taxpayers more than $5 billion per year to subsidize the mature corn ethanol industry, as well as double a trade barrier that denies consumers choice at the pump and makes gas more expensive. Read More

End of Ethanol Tariff & Subsidy Doesn’t Mean the End of U.S. Ethanol

by Joel Velasco on Dec 02, 2010

Earlier this morning, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took to the chamber floor to make a last stand for extending the $6 billion per year ethanol subsidy and tariff that are set to expire on December 31st. The speech was rife with the same old hyperbole that has been debunked countless times by experts around the globe and repeatedly on this very blog. Here goes another round. Read More

Is Corn Ethanol a Dirty Word?

by Joel Velasco on Dec 01, 2010

With the release of two Senate Dear Colleague letters in roughly 24 hours, Washington is much abuzz about ethanol policy. Yesterday saw a bipartisan letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) calling for an end to the ethanol tariff and subsidies – signed by 17 Democrats and Republicans across the country. Today came the farm belt’s response – a counter letter from Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) urging an extension of the existing policies this year. Here’s some food for thought after comparing both letters. Read More

Glaring Hypocrisy in U.S. Ethanol’s Subsidized Exports

by Joel Velasco on Nov 17, 2010

With gas prices up nearly 8% since Labor Day, ethanol profits soaring and a lame-duck Congress mulling over potential energy legislation, news surfaced this week that may well put the $6 billion per year ethanol subsidies and tariff in final jeopardy. According to reports from CNN Money and Financial Times, rising U.S. ethanol exports are being subsidized by the current tax credit. What that means is American taxpayers are paying hard earned money to lower prices at the pump for Europeans and other drivers around the world. Read More

Another Blow to Ethanol Subsidies and Trade Protection from Iowa State

by Joel Velasco on Nov 16, 2010

As chatter increases inside the Beltway that some energy legislation may move forward during the lame-duck session, new research from the heart of the farm belt once again battered the economic case for extending the ethanol tariff and subsidies. A new report by Bruce A. Babcock, director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and a professor of economics at Iowa State University, finds that extension of the two policies would have stark consequences for taxpayers and food prices – while allowing them to expire would have no significant impact on the ethanol economy. Read More

Deficit Commission Report a Sobering Reminder on U.S. Ethanol Policy Reform

by Joel Velasco on Nov 11, 2010

Former Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles’s deficit reduction proposal has drawn mixed reactions from both sides of the aisle for recommending sweeping cuts to federal programs. Regardless of where you stand on the report’s recommendations, one of its main points serves as a sobering reminder that Congress must “end redundant, antiquated, ineffective spending.” The ethanol tariff and subsidies may well be the easiest place to start. Read More

Raise a Little Cane - A Countdown to Cleaner, More Affordable Energy

by Joel Velasco on Nov 09, 2010

After 30 years in existence, the ethanol tariff and subsidies are finally set to expire on December 31st – but not without a fight. Despite resounding calls from voters to end wasteful government spending, the corn ethanol lobby is scrambling to push through a renewal of these costly policies during the lame-duck session with “a stroke of the pen, a little bit of Whiteout.” With $6 billion taxpayer dollars and access to cleaner, more affordable energy at stake – the time for backroom deals is long gone. Read More

A Head Start on Savings at the Pump

by Joel Velasco on Nov 01, 2010

With gas prices on the rise and Thanksgiving travel ahead, many Americans are reminded of the pinch at the pump. Lowering fuel prices in the long term is one important reason we’re trying to stimulate competition among clean, alternative fuels by eliminating the tariff on imported ethanol. The tariff is set to expire on December 31st, and here at Sweeter Alternative – we’re ready to make a down payment and help you get a head start on potential fuel savings now. Today I’m announcing a month-long giveaway of fuel gift cards. Read More

New Bi-Partisan Calls for End to Ethanol Subsidies

by Joel Velasco on Oct 29, 2010

With Americans set to head to the polls next week, consumer watchdog groups, editorial columnists and candidates from across the political spectrum are renewing calls for an end to multi-billion dollar ethanol subsidies at a time of record deficits – all against the backdrop of soaring profits for the nation’s producers. And remember, the sole purpose of the tariff that blocks sugarcane ethanol is to offset these tax credits - if the tax credits go, then the tariff should as well. Read More

Folly by Numbers – USDA Shows Economic Gains from Eliminating Subsidies

by Joel Velasco on Oct 26, 2010

Last week at the National Press Club, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack made headlines when he called for a “fiscally responsible short-term extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit [VEETC],” citing a new report by the agency’s Economic Research Service. In an ironic twist, it turns out the report shows that with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) in place, eliminating those tax credits would actually increase the nation’s economic productivity by roughly $4 to 6 billion dollars (depending on the price of oil). Read More

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

by Joel Velasco on Oct 08, 2010

After months of well-publicized family-feuding Congressional and industry outlets are reporting today that the nation’s powerful corn ethanol lobby has reached a consensus on key policies set to expire on December 31st – namely the $6 billion per year tax subsidy and the 54 cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Just in time for the lame-duck session. Read More

Nation’s Fourth Largest Ethanol Producer Says Industry No Longer Needs Tax Credit, Tariff to Survive

by Joel Velasco on Sep 27, 2010

As the prospect for a renewal of the ethanol tariff and subsidies dims, industry leaders are starting to change their rhetoric. Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains Renewable Energy – the nation’s fourth largest ethanol producer – said Friday that his company and the industry as a whole would continue to prosper in the absence of the VEETC and the 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol, both of which expire at the end of the year. Read More

President Obama Praises Sugarcane Ethanol

by Joel Velasco on Jul 13, 2010

In a meeting yesterday with President Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, President Obama discussed working together to expand trade opportunities, particularly in the area of clean energy. Obama specifically praised sugarcane ethanol, citing its success story in Brazil and potential for the hemisphere. We hope it’s a sign that the Administration is ready to remove existing trade barriers that favor oil from our enemies over clean alternatives from our long standing allies. Read More

“How Sweet It Is” – Announcing the Winner of Our 54th Goal Contest

by Joel Velasco on Jul 09, 2010

As many of you know, we’re World Cup fanatics here at Sweeter Alternative. Our other passion of course, is sugarcane ethanol. A few weeks back we found the perfect intersection of the two by launching a one of a kind contest. Today we’re thrilled to announce the Grand Prize winner. Read More

What Could Progressives and Conservatives Possibly Agree On? (Hint: Changing U.S. Ethanol Policy)

by Joel Velasco on Jun 15, 2010

These days in DC, it’s tough to get Progressives and Conservatives to agree on anything. Open up today’s Washington Times, however, and you’ll find that both ends of the ideological spectrum may have found common ground in calling for a change in U.S. ethanol policy. Read More

DC Gas Discount: Signed, Sealed, Delivered...

by Joel Velasco on Jun 03, 2010

Despite an 11th hour cancellation of our discounted gas event last week, we were able to honor our commitment to lower prices by offering a gas card giveaway to DC drivers. The response was overwhelming, and today we sealed the deal! Read More

Who Killed the Gas Discount?

by Joel Velasco on May 24, 2010

You probably read here last week that we were all set-up to offer Washingtonians a 54-cent-per-gallon discount on gas tomorrow. After we hung promotional banners and were all geared up to educate drivers about sugarcane ethanol and the 54-cent-per-gallon import tariff, an unspecified “political” influence canceled our event. For DC area drivers, we were still able to honor our commitment to lower gas prices by offering a gas card giveaway. The response was overwhelming. Read More

RFA Living in a Field of Dreams When it Comes to Ethanol Exports

by Joel Velasco on May 21, 2010

In the classic baseball film “Field of Dreams,” farmer Ray Kinsella builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field after hearing voices in his head that told him to do it. At one point in the movie he says of his project, “I have just created something totally illogical.” The same could be said for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). In a statement issued April 6, 2010, the organization said “Vacillating regulations regarding Brazil’s trade policy as well its domestic consumption of ethanol make it impossible for foreign ethanol producers to even consider exporting product into Brazilian markets.” Read More

Helping DC Drivers Save Money at the Pump this Memorial Day

by Joel Velasco on May 17, 2010

To draw attention to a hidden tax on American drivers and help make summer vacation a little more affordable, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association will offer Washington-area drivers a discount of $0.54 per gallon off the price of gasoline at two Capitol Hill stations. In honor of Memorial Day, we’ll double the discount for military personnel who can show a military ID Read More

Surging U.S. Corn Ethanol Exports Signal an Industry Ready to Compete

by Joel Velasco on May 14, 2010

The case for continued subsidies and trade protections for the corn ethanol industry is running on empty. Let’s recap some recent analysis about the U.S ethanol industry, which I remind you is the world’s largest, producing more than 12 billion gallons of corn ethanol annually. Read More

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