Sweetening the Ethanol Pot

Cindy Zimmerman

Brazil makes almost all of its ethanol from sugar, and some US lawmakers in sugar-producing states would like to see more of that here. The question is whether it would be economically viable to do so.

AP reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to issue a long-awaited study around July 1 on the viability of converting sugar into ethanol. Lawmakers from Minnesota, which produces sugar beets, and sugarcane leader Florida hope for a positive answer. Coleman

“It would be absurd in 10 years if we’re doing 60 billion gallons of ethanol, and the only crop in America that’s not participating is sugar,” said Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican and one of Congress’ leading champions of sugar-based ethanol. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, tried unsuccessfully last year to get the Senate to require refineries across the country to use 100 million gallons of sugar-based ethanol a year.
“It’s not going to happen unless there is a push from Congress with the incentives,” Nelson said, short of a major disruption in the oil supply to the U.S.

Coleman and Nelson are backing legislation sponsored by Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., that would encourage the use of renewable fuels, including the 100 million-gallon mandate for sugar-based ethanol.