Supporters of the EPA's decision yesterday to approve ethanol blended up to 15 percent in gasoline – and to be used in model year 2007 and newer cars – were the first out of the gate with statements of approval. Today we get the backlash.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), while supportive of using more biofuels in vehicles, said the EPA is "missing an opportunity" by limiting E15 to cars made in the last three or so years. Calling the 2007 dividing line, "scientifically unjustified," the RFA's president and CEO, Bob Dinneen, said:
This decision continues to leave the market artificially constrained and further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization.
The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association went much further (to no one's surprise). NPRA's executive vice president and general counsel, Gregory Scott, said in a statement that the EPA:
abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation's public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency.
That's actually kind of clever, but the rest of the statement (available in full after the jump), isn't exactly credible. For one thing, it calls gasoline "safe," when the big picture is not at all that simple.

Then we have the Brazilians – specifically, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) – which believes that the EPA's decision means it is time for American ethanol producers to give up trade protection and compete without subsidies. Joel Velasco, UNICA's chief representative in North America, argues that America's ethanol tax credit and import tariff should expire as scheduled at the end of the year to "help lower gas prices, save taxpayers money and provide Americans with greater access to advanced renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol." Nothing like a good biofuel turf fight.

[Source: UNICA, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, RFA | Image: ALAIN JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images]


EPA Decision Should Signal End to Ethanol Subsidies and Trade Protection

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision today to allow 15% ethanol blends for 2007 and later model vehicles, an increase from the current 10% blend already approved for all vehicles, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued the following statement. It should be attributed to Joel Velasco, UNICA's Chief Representative in North America.

Many U.S. ethanol groups have argued recently that after 30 years of tax credits and trade protection they are ready to compete without subsidies provided the government grants them greater access to America's fuel pumps. With the EPA's decision to increase ethanol limits by 50% for newer vehicles, that day has arrived.

The attention now shifts to the U.S. Congress where lawmakers are debating what to do with the 30-year-old ethanol tax credit and import tariff that cost $6 billion annually. Allowing these subsidies to expire as scheduled at the end of the year will help lower gas prices, save taxpayers money and provide Americans with greater access to advanced renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol.

As we indicated in our comments during the agency's rulemaking, Brazil has decades of successful experience blending ethanol with gasoline at 25% concentrations. Brazilian ethanol is primarily sugarcane ethanol – a renewable fuel that is typically less expensive and cuts greenhouse gases much more sharply than other ethanol options. Allowing other alternative fuels like sugarcane ethanol to compete fairly in the U.S. would save American consumers money at the pump, cut dependence on Middle East 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 the U.S. Congress will do the same and drop the tax on imported ethanol. As the world's top producers of ethanol, the United States and Brazil should lead by example in creating a free market for clean, renewable fuel.

Consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs. The same principle holds true for the renewable fuels market where competition will create a race to the future and generate better alternatives for consumers. Americans will benefit from having more options – like sugarcane ethanol – available at the pump, and that's why the U.S. Congress should follow-up the EPA decision by allowing the ethanol tax credit and import tariff to expire on December 31, 2010.

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. Sugarcane ethanol is currently effectively unavailable in the United States, due to an elaborate system of subsidies and trade barriers erected by the U.S. Congress. This current policy expires December 31, 2010. More on sugarcane ethanol at

NPRA Criticizes EPA Decision to Increase Ethanol in Gasoline

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, issued the following statement criticizing the decision announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency to approve the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) for late-model cars, up from the current limit of 10 percent ethanol (E10):

"The Environmental Protection Agency today abdicated its responsibility to safeguard our nation's public health and environment and became the Ethanol Promotion Agency. EPA's unwise and premature decision to allow the sale of gasoline with higher levels of ethanol may be good politics in Corn Belt states on the eve of the midterm elections, but it is bad news for every American who owns a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, lawnmower, chainsaw or anything else powered by gasoline.

"The ethanol industry has won a victory today by convincing the federal agency charged with protecting our nation's public health and environment to disregard public safety and environmental issues and instead base a major policy decision on inadequate engine test data that has not been made public or reviewed independently. The American people are the losers today because EPA has violated President Obama's 2009 commitment to them to put science ahead of politics.

"EPA is asking the American people to pump first and ask questions later, and to become guinea pigs in a giant science experiment that involves their vehicles, their gasoline-powered equipment, and their safety. Instead of rushing to judgment to announce this decision today, EPA should have required the completion of thorough and objective scientific testing of increased ethanol in gasoline to protect millions of Americans.

"Our nation's domestic petroleum refiners are committed to manufacturing safe, reliable and clean gasoline, and we will continue to oppose any EPA actions that could endanger the safety of the American families, farmers and truckers we serve every day. We take the confidence Americans place in our products – demonstrated by the millions of times each day that consumers purchase gasoline and diesel fuel – very seriously, and we will consider every option available to reverse EPA's ill-considered and politically motivated decision."

NPRA members include more than 450 companies, including virtually all U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers. Our members supply consumers with a wide variety of products and services used daily in their homes and businesses. These products include gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, lubricants and the chemicals that serve as "building blocks" in making everything from plastics to clothing to medicine to computers.

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