Biofuel policy in Washington these days has gotten too far off course. Ethanol opponents are hard at work trying to shift focus to the alleged impacts of American ethanol use on the decisions of farmers, ranchers, loggers, developers and governments half the world away, despite scant evidence to suggest any relationship exists.
By focusing on international developments that may or may not have any relationship to American ethanol production, official Washington has created the opportunity for farmers and biofuel producers all over the world to stand up and speak with one powerful voice. Worldwide ethanol production has made a significant difference in the economic marketplace and the environmental arena. The OPEC oil cartel hates ethanol because it eats into their domination and excess profits. Every gallon of gasoline not consumed in favor of ethanol means 50% to 60% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable fuels have only taken hold in countries such as the U.S. and Brazil that have created and sustained programs to encourage its production. These incentives have included tax advantages, tariffs, export enhancement, debt forgiveness, infrastructure development and outright subsidies. It is important that countries be allowed to create similar programs, and grow their own biofuels industries, using whatever indigenous raw materials are available to them.
The model that the U.S. and Brazil have utilized is now helping farmers and biofuel producers in Canada and countries all across Europe, Africa, and Asia. They are developing infrastructure and deploying biofuel technologies making them more energy secure while addressing economic and environmental concerns brought on by a dependence on imported oil. Sweden, for example, is shifting vodka distilleries to ethanol production and increasing its fleet of E-85 vehicles.