Media and Policy Center
Sugarcane ethanol is a renewable, low-carbon fuel produced from sugarcane. It is renewable because, unlike coal or oil, it is produced from a plant and can be continually harvested and re-grown. Compared to other types of ethanol available today, sugarcane ethanol is the one that offers the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The following research, studies and other resources provide detailed background on the multiple benefits of sugarcane ethanol, and the costly policies that make it unavailable in the U.S.
- Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University: “Costs and Benefits to Taxpayers, Consumers, and Producers from U.S. Ethanol Policies” (July 2010)
- Congressional Budget Office: “Using Biofuel Tax Credits to Achieve Energy and Environmental Policy Goals” (July 2010)
- Congressional Research Service: "Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues"
- Government of Brazil: “Sugarcane Agroecological Zoning: To Expand Production, Preserve Life and Ensure a Future” (September 2009)
- Government Accountability Office: "BIOFUELS -- Potential Effects and Challenges of Required Increases in Production and Use" (August 2009)
“Taxpayers should no longer throw good money after bad when it comes to subsidizing corn ethanol. The public should get something in return for its hard earned money, and that means demanding real environmental performance.”
— Franz Matzner, Climate Center Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), March 25, 2010
“For more than three decades the ethanol industry has received generous subsidies from taxpayers. With Americans staring into a budgetary abyss for the foreseeable future, blowing billions on more ethanol subsidies doesn’t make sense."
— Steve Ellis, Vice President, Taxpayers for Common Sense, March 25, 2010
“Maybe we will stop doing this damned foolishness called ethanol subsidies. It’s one of the greatest rip-offs that takes place on the American taxpayers.”
— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Remarks in Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Markup, July 21, 2010
“Bottom Line: Until the tariff [on sugarcane ethanol] is lowered, the United States will tax the only fuel it can import that increases energy security, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and lowers gasoline prices.”
— Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Congressional Record, March 17, 2009
- Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association announces new CEO
- October 10, 2012 — The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry. Association (UNICA), has announced the appointment of University of São Paulo Economics Professor Elizabeth Farina as the organization’s new CEO
- Sugarcane Ethanol Producers Respond to Unfair Legislation to Extend Tariff
- December 05, 2011 — In response to the introduction of H.R. 3552, legislation sponsored by four members of the U.S. House of Representatives to extend the import tax on foreign ethanol, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued the following statement. It should be attributed to Leticia Phillips, UNICA’s Representative in North America.
- Sugarcane Ethanol Producers Applaud Bipartisan Deal to End Import Tariff
- July 07, 2011 — The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued the following statement in response to news of a bipartisan agreement to end ethanol tax credit and import tariff on July 31, 2011 – five months ahead of the scheduled expiration. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) brokered the deal with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD).
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- Joel Velasco on Agripulse (September 6, 2010)
- NPR Radio Spot (April 2010)
- Bruce Babcock’s Interview on Phoenix’s KFNN-AM 1510 (July 29, 2010)
- Brazil steps up WTO measures in currency war — Reuters (January 21, 2011)
Prompted by an escalating global currency war, Brazil is preparing to challenge U.S. ethanol aid and EU beef import barriers in the World Trade Organization, industry and government sources said on Friday.
- Industry refutes calls for import tariff intervention — Ethanol Producer Magazine (January 19, 2011)
The Renewable Fuels Association and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are taking an aggressive stance against threats from UNICA, Brazil’s sugarcane industry association, that it will pursue World Trade Organization intervention regarding the U.S. import tariff on ethanol. UNICA has disputed the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff for years and said in December that if the tariff was not allowed to expire at the end of 2010 it would urge the Brazilian government to immediately initiate dispute settlement proceedings at the WTO. On Jan. 10, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., met with Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff to discuss regional security and trade after which McCain told reporters he believes the WTO would rule against the U.S. “because it’s clearly a subsidy that is neither warranted, nor in keeping with WTO regulations.”
- Climate Capitalism and Biofuels Ready to Break Out in 2011 — Triple Pundit (January 17, 2011)
Brazil, in contrast to the U.S., derives most of its biofuels from more sustainably harvested sugarcane fields. UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, reports that only 2% of Brazil’s arable land is used for ethanol production. Furthermore, the mechanization of the industry has reduced its need to burn its waste biomass and instead turns its basgasse and other biomass into energy resulting in a nearly closed-loop system. Most ethanol production facilities produce all their own energy. Brazil’s ethanol industry represents 35% of the total global production of biofuels. Brazil’s transport sector has made a massive shift to biofuels and flex-fuel cars which can operate on a range of ethanol intensity up to 100% pure ethanol (B100). This transformation, with more than 10 million flex fuel vehicles on the road in Brazil, has led to an estimated 600 million tons of CO2 reduction from the transport sector in Brazil, while creating a multi-billion dollar opportunity for climate capitalists.