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Ten Things We’re Thankful For in 2011

by Leticia Phillips on Nov 23, 2011

As we all reflect back on a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends – and with our tummies stuffed full of turkey – we are finding lots of reasons to be grateful for a remarkable 2011. A New Year is just around the corner, and this time of year always begs for a look back over where we’ve been and where we’re headed. So, in the spirit of thankfulness, we thought we might share with you with some of our favorite milestones from this year.

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As we all reflect back on a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends – and with our tummies stuffed full of turkey – we are finding lots of reasons to be grateful for a remarkable 2011.  A New Year is just around the corner, and this time of year always begs for a look back over where we’ve been and where we’re headed.  So, in the spirit of thankfulness, we thought we might share with you with some of our favorite milestones from this year.

10. Obama Goes to Brazil. In March, President Obama visited Brazil and announced a plan to forge a new energy partnership through the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue.  Both nations are seeking to address the “mutual interest in the development of safe, secure and affordable energy in an environmentally sound way, including oil, natural gas, biofuels, clean energy, and civilian nuclear energy.” That’s good for everyone who consumes energy, but I’ll confess the highlight of the trip for me was shaking hands with the President!

9. Republican Candidates Question Subsidies. During a recent energy forum in Iowa, all but one of the participating Republican candidates for President spoke out against wasteful spending, specifically supported ending ethanol subsidies.  This significant departure from campaigns in the past emphasizes how the debate is changing in Iowa.  Once unthinkable, now presidential candidates are questioning the necessity of continuing the expensive subsidies.

8. Bipartisan Congressional Leadership. In a rare moment of bi-partisanship, Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) teamed up to introduce an amendment that would sunset both the ethanol tax credit and tariff.  Additionally, we applaud Congressmen Wally Herger (R-CA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) for introducing the companion legislation in the House.  It’s refreshing to see that liberals and conservatives can occasionally find common cause, and we appreciate their leadership.

7. Brazilian Sugarcane Facilities are Ready to Trade Clean Energy. In a positive sign that Americans will soon have greater access to cleaner, advanced renewable fuels, 107 Brazilian sugarcane processing facilities have successfully registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paving the way for sugarcane ethanol to assist the U.S. in meeting new environmental requirements.

6. ITC Announces Huge Savings Without Tariff. The International Trade Commission concluded in their most recent report that American consumers would benefit by $1.5 billion annually by 2015 if the high tariff rates were removed.  The 2011 report represents a huge increase in savings from the $350 million estimated in the 2009 report.

5. America’s Ethanol Industry is Booming. Strong competition benefits consumers, so we are thankful that the U.S. ethanol industry is expected to export three times more ethanol in 2011 than in 2010.  This solidifies the U.S. as the world’s largest ethanol exporter and underscores the fact that producers are in better shape than ever to end the subsidies, level the playing field, and handle increased competition.

4. An Outpouring of Editorial Support. Since we started the Sweeter Alternative campaign last year, over 228 editorial writers, op-ed contributors and letters to the editor have run in newspapers around the country supporting ethanol reform and asking that America’s renewable fuels market be open to real competition that will benefit consumers.

3. Ethanol Producers Say Time to End It. In a noteworthy departure from past years, domestic ethanol producers have finally gotten behind the idea that everyone has to do their part in this economic environment.  Organizations like National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy and Green Plains Renewable Energy all agree that it’s time to end the 30 year subsidy, and conclude that the ethanol industry is strong enough to survive without it.  See a list of select quotes here.

2. Senate Says No. On June 16th, clean energy advocates experienced one of our most substantial victories of 2011 when the Senate passed the Coburn-Feinstein amendment by an overwhelming margin of 73 - 27 to end the ethanol tax credit and import tariff.  This bi-partisan vote sent a strong signal that it’s time to reform U.S. ethanol policy and develop a global market for clean energy.

1. Trade Barrier About to Come Down. We are most thankful that 33 days from today, America will take an important step towards creating a global market for the free trade of renewable energy when the 30-year-old subsidy and tariff expire at the end of the year.  So this year we are both thankful and optimistic that the time has finally come to end the $6 billion annual taxpayer handouts and lower fuel prices giving us access to cleaner, more affordable renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol.

copyright 2010 Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association