Maintain American Access to Clean, Advanced Biofuels
With the goal of improving U.S. energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Congress in 2007 significantly expanded a program requiring increasing volumes of renewable fuel in America's energy supply. The resulting regulations – known as the renewable fuel standard (RFS) – calls for Americans to use 16.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel this year, a requirement that grows incrementally to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Congress capped conventional corn ethanol at 15 billion gallons to stimulate innovation and development of advanced biofuels that offer superior environmental benefits.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determines which fuels qualify as advanced biofuels, and a key condition for designation is reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to fossil fuels. EPA identified Brazilian sugarcane ethanol as an advanced biofuel in 2010 after determining it reduces greenhouse gases by 61% compared to gasoline.
Some special interests representing corn ethanol do not appreciate competition from other producers. They have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce RFS volume requirements for advanced biofuels hoping the move will cut demand for sugarcane ethanol.
Sugarcane ethanol plays a modest but important role supplying the U.S. with clean renewable fuel. Last year, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol comprised only 3% of all renewable fuel consumed by Americans, but provided nearly one-quarter of the U.S. supply of advanced biofuels.
Congress designed the RFS to stimulate renewables like sugarcane biofuels that lower global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases compared to gasoline and other fuels available today. This advanced biofuel is one more reliable option for diversifying energy supplies and improving U.S. energy security so Americans are not dependent on any one source or country. Americans should not be denied access, and EPA should protect the integrity of the RFS program by maintaining the volume requirements for advanced biofuels.
As world's largest ethanol producers and exporters, the United States and Brazil enjoy the benefits of global ethanol trade. The two countries should work together to build a global biofuels market that provides clean, affordable and sustainable solutions to our planet's growing energy needs.
Brazilian sugarcane producers are making investments to expand production, and Americans can depend on more advanced biofuel from sugarcane. Brazil exported nearly 820 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol in 2012 with more than half (460 million gallons) coming to the United States. Brazil currently manufactures about 6 billion gallons of sugarcane ethanol annually, and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association estimates that 650-800 million gallons will be available for export to the U.S. this year. Sugarcane ethanol exports could grow by an additional 800 million gallons in 2014.
The benefits of using sugarcane ethanol are cleaner air and a healthier planet. Those benefits will grow as Americans consume more advanced biofuels.