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Video Shows Congress It’s Easy to Save Taxpayers $6 Billion and Cut Fuel Costs

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Video Shows Congress It’s Easy to Save Taxpayers $6 Billion and Cut Fuel Costs

“All I Need to Know About U.S. Ethanol Subsidies” Highlights the Benefits of Letting 30 Years of Subsidies, Tariffs Expire on December 31

Washington, DC – UNICA today released a new video, “All I Need to Know About U.S. Ethanol Subsidies,” that explains to taxpayers how Congress could save them $6 billion per year and help lower prices at the pump (view the video script).  All lawmakers have to do is let 30 years of ethanol tax credits and trade protection expire on December 31.

Current U.S. ethanol policies include an interlocking system of subsidies and tariffs that cost taxpayers $6 billion per year (and a total of $45 billion since 1980), contribute to fluctuating gas prices and make sugarcane ethanol practically unavailable in the U.S.  The video helps demystify these policies, explains the environmental, economic and energy security benefits of greater competition in the biofuels sector and debunks a number of myths promoted by defenders of the status quo.

“Americans are increasingly writing and calling Congress to urge that it’s time to allow clean, renewable energy sources like sugarcane ethanol into the U.S.,” said Joel Velasco, UNICA’s Chief Representative in North America.  “Their letters and phone calls all echo one thing: they are tired of having their tax dollars used to keep these options out of reach and to support a thriving industry that’s already the world’s largest.”

Sugarcane ethanol is a clean, renewable and affordable fuel produced from sugarcane, which is grown in the United States, Brazil and more than 100 countries.  Like other forms of ethanol, it can be added to gasoline and used in all American vehicles at blends up to 10 percent ethanol.  UNICA argues that allowing sugarcane ethanol to compete fairly in the U.S. would save American consumers money at the pump, cut dependence on imported oil and improve the environment.

Brazil took an important first step to build an open and global biofuels marketplace by eliminating its tariff on imported ethanol through the end of 2011.  UNICA is asking the Brazilian government to make the tariff elimination permanent if Congress will do the same and drop the U.S. tax on imported ethanol.

“We are 100 days away from cleaner and more abundant energy choices at less volatile prices if Congress lets the ethanol subsidy and tariff expire on December 31,” concluded Velasco.  “We hope American drivers take a few minutes to watch this video and see how their fill-ups could be improved.”

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The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing nearly two-thirds of all sugarcane production and processing in the country. UNICA’s priorities include serving as a source for credible information and analysis about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane products, particularly its biofuels. The association works to encourage the continuous advancement of sustainable practices throughout the sugarcane industry and to promote biofuels as a clean, reliable alternative to fossil fuels. To learn more, visit

Press Contact:
Ben Goldstein


Video Script

“All I Need to Know About U.S. Ethanol Subsidies”

Since 1980, the corn ethanol industry has received 45 billion dollars in ongoing government subsidies. That support is now costing 6 billion dollars out of the tax payers' pocket EVERY YEAR.

What are these subsidies for? Well, one is a tax credit for blending ethanol with gasoline, which sounds like a good idea since ethanol reduces petroleum use and is good for the environment.

The other subsidy is an import tax on foreign ethanol, particularly sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, the second biggest producer after the US.

Now, why is that bad you may ask? Because the tax squelches competition. And competition is good because it equals better quality ethanol and lower prices at the pump.

And we could all use lower prices at the pump.

Now, these two main subsidies expire this year and so, understandably, corn ethanol producers are lobbying hard to extend the perks they have enjoyed for three decades.

But really, do they still NEED this money to protect their industry? 6 billion tax dollars per year!?!?

A lot of people don’t think so…including business and anti-waste groups, environmental organizations and editorial writers at leading media outlets nationwide. Even non-partisan government agencies make the case that it is time to reform U.S. ethanol policy.

There is even a new study by leading agricultural economists at Iowa State, in the heart of corn country by the way, which finds that Americans would benefit from eliminating the tax credit and tariff.

According to these economists cutting the subsidies and tariff will reduce ethanol prices, and that means savings at the pump for drivers.

The Iowa study also debunks a number of overstated claims

“Claim number one…without subsidies, the U.S. will suffer catastrophic job loss.

In reality, productive farmers and ethanol refiners will keep their jobs.

Claim number two- without the tax credit and tariff, domestic biofuel production will plummet by 4 billion gallons!

Actually, the Environmental Protection Agency has already mandated rising use of renewable fuels. That means even without the tax credit and tariff, domestic ethanol production will increase to 14.5 billion gallons by 2014.

Claim number 3- without the tax credit and tariff, America will become dependent on foreign ethanol.

Imports will rise modestly in by 2014, but will account for only 5% of the U.S. ethanol supply.

Greater access to clean, affordable and renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol would actually help diversify U.S. energy supplies.

Here’s the rub… not only has the government mandated that we use more and more renewable fuels – some in Congress also want to keep giving them extra money. 30 billion to be exact – out of YOUR pocket.

Look, the U.S. and Brazil are the two largest ethanol producers in the world, so shouldn’t they just work together to create a competitive, open market? Brazil has already moved in that direction. They’ve ended their government subsidies and eliminated tariffs. Isn’t time America did the same?

Even without the extra money, the future for corn ethanol looks bright. So it’s time Congress ended the tax credits and trade barriers.

America needs a tax break, better fuel prices and energy diversity. America needs clean and affordable fuel alternatives like sugarcane ethanol.

Tell Congress exactly what you think at

Media Contact

Ana Carolina Lessa
Public Affairs, North America
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