While the United States government drags its feet on making a decision to offer American motorists the choice to use E15 at the pump, the Brazilian government is contemplating an ethanol blend increase from E25 to E30. Currently the EPA comment period to get feedback on the increase to E12 or E15 is open, and the U.S. ethanol industry is actively lobbying for an extension of the comment period.
Simultaneously, the ethanol industry in Brazil, led by Unica (the Brazilian sugarcane industry), is aggressively pushing their federal government to increase the ethanol blend wall according to a report in the April 7th issue of Biofuels Brazil. Brazilian ethanol producers are facing the same scenarios as producers in the States as they contend with low prices and surplus supply.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) sent out a statement today calling for more aggressive action from the U.S. government. “Despite all of the rhetoric, the United States isn’t leading on biofuels issues,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of IRFA. “As we tip-toe toward E15 and worry about the impact on weed-whackers, Brazil has moved quickly to put in place policies that have freed them from foreign oil. Maybe the very real price of foreign oil in terms of blood, treasure and environmental degradation should be taken at least as seriously as any hypothetical challenges higher blends pose for small, off-road engines.”
According to Shaw, the foot dragging and arguments against approving E15 blends give many Iowans a sense of deja vu. Thirty years ago, critics of ethanol were calling for more testing of both conventional cars and small engines when considering E10; they are calling for these same tests as today. Ethanol propronents also remain frustrated as they cite the success that Brazil has had not only in achieving oil independence but exporting biofuels as well, and question why the U.S. can’t achieve the same goals.