Ethanol groups expressed concern and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called for clarification this week on the White House’s position regarding the U.S. tariff on imported ethanol after a statement in favor of lifting the tariff was made by the President’s nominee for ambassador to Brazil.
During his confirmation process, ambassador nominee Thomas Shannon said that removing the tariff would be “beneficial,” however as the official voice of the United States in Brazil, Shannon also stated that he will support the position of the Obama Administration.
“As a senator and as a presidential candidate, President Obama supported keeping the U.S. tariff on imported ethanol,” Grassley said. “It’s important to know whether the Administration’s position has changed before this nomination goes forward.”
In response, the White House issued a statement yesterday regarding the administration’s position on the ethanol tariff:
“The Obama Administration is committed to developing our domestic biofuels industry, and to help the international market for biofuels grow. Biofuels are an important renewable energy resource, which will help diversify our energy matrix and reduce our dependence on imported oil. Regarding the U.S. tariff on Brazilian ethanol, the administration has no plans to change it.”
Both the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy expressed concern and confusion over Shannon’s statements. “During his tenure in the U.S. Senate and as a presidential candidate, President Obama has been a strong supporter of America’s evolving ethanol industry,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen. “Removing the tariff would have a chilling impact on the development of next generation technologies and unfairly require Americans to subsidize foreign industry.”
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis was pleased to see the quick response from the White House. “We applaud the Obama administration for reinforcing its commitment to homegrown ethanol,” Buis said in a statement. “Keeping the tariff on Brazilian ethanol will ensure the development of a domestic renewable fuel industry, which creates green collar jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, strengthens our national security, and improves the environment.”