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U.S. Biofuel Policy

The United States is the largest producer and consumer of ethanol in the world. Corn ethanol has been produced in the U.S. for more than 30 years and has blossomed into a thriving industry. U.S. farms and refineries generate nearly half of all ethanol produced around the globe, or 45 million liters (12 billion gallons) in 2010. Ethanol policy in the U.S. is based mainly on:

  • Renewable Fuels Standard – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the world’s most ambitious program to promote ethanol. The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), created by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), requires adding continually increasing volumes of renewable sources into the country’s fuel supply – growing from nearly 49 billion liters (13 billion gallons) in 2011 up to 136 billion liters (36 billion gallons) by 2022.

    As the agency implemented RFS2, EPA determined that sugarcane ethanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 percent and designated it an Advanced Renewable Fuel.  This designation puts sugarcane ethanol in an important category of superior biofuels that will make up 79.5 billion liters (21 billion gallons) of the fuel supply in the United States by 2022 – an amount equal to about 15 percent of today’s gasoline market.  Sugarcane ethanol plays a modest but important role supplying Americans with clean renewable fuel. Learn more about sugarcane ethanol's impact on the RFS.

On January 1, 2012 the U.S. eliminated the 54-cents- per-gallon import tariff it used to impose on ethanol imports. The 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit to blenders has also been removed. The two top world producers and exporters of ethanol, the U.S. and Brazil, now provide free access to their markets. 

Other U.S. Policies

On a state level, California enacted the first low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in the world in 2007 with the objective of lowering by 10 percent the carbon intensity of its transportation fuels when compared to gasoline by the year 2020. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) oversees this program and is responsible for conducting the life-cycle analysis for all fuels used for transportation in California. Under CARB’s most recent analysis, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is considered the low-carbon fuel with the best performance today and the only fuel available at commercial scale to contribute to the program.

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26 Ethanol Summit 2017

São Paulo, Brazil

26 – 27 June 2017
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RFS

Renewable Fuel Standard

An illustration of a fuel pump with an ethanol E on the front.

  • What is the Renewable Fuels Standard?
  • What is sugarcane's role?  
  • Can Americans depend on biofuels from sugarcane?

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Sugarcane Solutions Blog

What’s your first-generation biofuels literacy?

On April 22, we celebrate International Mother Earth Day. Many people want to take action on that occasion by planting a tree or informing themselves on climate change solutions and environmental conservation. However, in today’s era of post-truth politics and information overload, we often struggle to make sound judgements about what is best for the environment and what is agenda-driven rhetoric. Same goes for lawmakers who are in charge of setting the policies that will lead us to a more environmentally friendly economy and lifestyle.

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