• Mar 17th 2009 at 11:04AM
  • 15
Even though some headlines were dominated by Brazilian economic news, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's visit to the U.S. and his meeting with President Obama over the weekend also dealt with the ethanol industry. The big biofuel news from Silva's visit was a call to end U.S. tariffs on his country's ethanol exports. Silva told an investor forum on Monday that he spoke with President Bush about this many times and will do so with Obama as well. Considering Obama's Agriculture Secretary's strong support for American corn ethanol, and Obama's own stated support for ethanol/corn subsidies, it's no surprise that Silva's pleas are not having an immediate effect.

According to the AP, Silva told the investors that, "One thing that leaves me perplexed, is in the same world where we invest in environmental policy capable of avoiding global warming ... many countries still don't place any tariff on polluting fuels while they place absurd tariffs on ethanol."

[Source: AP]
White House Photo/Pete Souza

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I hope the President listens to him.

      Now there are a lot of myths about corn ethanol. In fact it is no threat to food, and is much cleaner than gasoline.


      However, our stupid and counterproductive tariffs on Brazilian and other foreign ethanol DO need to go, immediately, and should never have been put in place.

      Also, we need to undo the corn lobby's success in pushing methanol fuel down the memory hole. Methanol was the original alcohol fuel in the 80s and 90s that environmentalists championed and for which the first flex fuel cars were made.

      Today's flex fuel tech supports any alcohol fuel, including ethanol and methanol, and we need both to be big and successful to replace gasoline.

      The most important change we need to make in this area is to mandate that all new cars sold in America be fully flex fueled. It's only a $100 per car expense for automakers but will help reassure consumers that they won't be stuck with high gas prices again.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Indeed. I don't get it either. Subsidizing corn-based ethanol benefits a few megafarm corporations at the taxpayers' expense. Cleaner, non-Mideast-sourced fuels like ethanol benefit *all* Americans, just as much if they're made from cane sugar as if they're made from corn. Hell, what we really oughta do is kill the sugar subsidy. Then we could import the sugar to make ethanol, which would create a new industry and employ people, rather than importing the ethanol, and instead of using corn to make ethanol (and HFCS), we could use it to, like, *feed people* instead.
        • 8 Months Ago

        The world bank call BS on your Ethanol activist claims:


        Most of recent food price increases are directly attributable to food to fuel madness.
        • 8 Months Ago
        We do need sugarcane and other sourced ethanol, and the tariffs are stupid and need to be eliminated yesterday, but corn ethanol is not a threat to food.

        The corn used to make ethanol is not the variety grown for human consumption. The starch in it is removed for fuel, but the vitamins, minerals, protein, etc., are saved to make animal feed fed to meat livestock, so it ends up on our plates anyway.

        Furthermore while ethanol corn production has gone up, "food corn" has gone up as well, and so has production of other staple crops.

        Finally, the majority of farmland in the US is not even cultivated; there's plenty of room for expansion without worrying that we're threatening the food supply.

        • 8 Months Ago
        PeterG, the article I posted already mentions, discusses, and then systematically eviscerates that World Bank report, plus the UN report, with numbers and facts. You should actually read it.
      • 8 Months Ago
      From what I've read, this would be good news to people living on the coasts due to the location of the midwest ethanol refineries and the high cost to transport it by truck.

      • 8 Months Ago
      All you guys can think about is the impact on the US. Doesn't anyone realize that Brazil is DESTROYING THE AMAZON RAINFOREST in order to make ethanol? We should tax them up the wazoo in order to discourage any increase in their production!

      That's all besides the fact that food should not be used for fuel unless you're riding a bicycle.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Senor Palacios Are You Mad ?
        Please Dont' say what stuff that you don't known. Don't Be another Spanish-american tryin' to sound smart. Amazon is being destroyed by just about any company from USA BRAZIL China and Europe. Wood is in need and Rubber too. Brazil is a huge country and there's planty of space out there.
        Buyin Ethanol from them will decrease the necessity of destroyin' the Amazon.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Yeah, everyone should read The Omnivore's Dilemma and start understanding our stupid corn subsidies. We make waaaaaaaay too much corn. Food is not an issue. Using the corn to its fullest potential is the issue.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Forgot to mention the key point.

      If we do mandate that all new cars sold in America be fully flex fueled, everybody wins.

      The corn industry and farm state politicians can relax because suddenly the market for high alcohol fuel becomes so big they'll have all the business they can handle with plenty left over.

      And the Brazilians and other poor Third Worlders can cheer because they'll be able to export their products to us.

      Without that mandate, the two are fighting over a very limited market (3% of current US cars are flex fuel, plus maybe one half of stations sell E10).

      • 8 Months Ago
      "Hell, what we really oughta do is kill the sugar subsidy."

      Oops, I meant tarriffs.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Hell, I just want real Coca Cola again (with sugar). I am tired of paying $2.50 for a Mexican imported16 oz. bottle.
      • 8 Months Ago
      1) Do NOT mandate flex fuel vehicles. It makes cars more expensive AND less fuel efficient overall.

      2) Drop sugar subsidy . . . it benefits few and harms most.

      3) Drop ethanol tariff . . . if corn-ethanol isn't competitive then it should die. It's old technology that doesn't work.

      4) Subsidize cellulosic ethanol research and development. If supported in its development, then it will lead to a domestic ethanol market that doesn't require new farmland, fertilizer or subsidy (for production).
      • 8 Months Ago
      The east coast in particular, yes. I know they are advancing cellulosic in non corn areas, but let's open it up to that sugar cane alcohol from Brazil, at least get rid of the tarriff. That way, we can expedite the delivery of this fuel to more of the USA. Start using it SOONER.

      And the corn can be utilized heavily in the midwest like it currently is. Whatever proves more economical for the industry. In my state, Wisconsin I have pretty good access to ethanol, Although not as good as my western neighbor states( MN SD and IA). I understand E85 and other mid level blends are hard to find elsewhere.
      • 8 Months Ago
      And, I have to add, I am not the biggest fan of corn ethanol. There are many other methods and ways to make alcohol as everyone knows. But mmy point is that it's what we have now, and expediting our increased use of ethanol fuel is a sound plan.
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