Monday, April 12, 2010

Sugarcane Ethanol Offers Clean, Affordable & Secure Alternative Energy

/PRNewswire/ -- As Earth Day approaches and Americans seek out environmentally friendly energy sources, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) today launched an expansive national awareness campaign to explain sugarcane ethanol's benefits. UNICA's education campaign will include a new website, SweeterAlternative.com, online, print and radio advertising, new research and a high-profile partnership with the Indy Racing League.

"We hope the Sweeter Alternative campaign will help Americans understand how sugarcane ethanol is a clean and affordable renewable fuel that could help them save money at the pump, cut U.S. dependence on Middle East oil and improve the environment," said UNICA's Chief Representative in North America, Joel Velasco.

Sugarcane ethanol is a renewable fuel produced from sugarcane, which is grown in the United States, Brazil and more than 100 countries. Like other forms of ethanol, it can be added to gasoline and used in all American vehicles at blends up to 10 percent ethanol. The Sweeter Alternative education campaign will highlight three key benefits of sugarcane ethanol:

-- Energy Security. Sugarcane ethanol is one more good option for
diversifying energy supplies and improving U.S. energy security, so
Americans are not reliant on any one source or country.
-- Economic. Americans could save about a dollar per fill-up off the
price of regular gasoline by expanding the use of sugarcane ethanol.
At an average price of $0.50 less per gallon than corn ethanol,
sugarcane ethanol is one of the least expensive renewable fuels
available.
-- Environmental. Sugarcane ethanol cuts greenhouse gases by at least 60
percent compared to gasoline - better than any other biofuel widely
produced today. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed
sugarcane ethanol's superior environmental performance earlier this
year by designating it an "advanced renewable fuel." This important
category of biofuels will make up 21 billion gallons of America's fuel
supply by 2020, or about 15 percent of today's gasoline market.

Most sugarcane ethanol is currently produced in Brazil, a South American country with a democratically elected government and a long-standing trade relationship with the United States. Brazil has replaced more than half of its gasoline needs with sugarcane ethanol - making gasoline the alternative fuel in that country. Many observers point to Brazil's experience as a case study for other nations seeking to expand the use of renewable fuels.

"Unfortunately, Americans cannot fully benefit from this clean, less expensive alternative while Congress continues to maintain trade barriers against imported ethanol," Velasco continued.

The U.S. government currently imposes a $0.54-per-gallon tariff on ethanol from most foreign countries, making sugarcane ethanol practically unavailable in the United States. By contrast, imported oil enters America duty free. The 54-cent import tax on ethanol will expire at the end of this year.

Last week, Brazil took an important first step to build an open and global biofuels marketplace by eliminating its tariff on imported ethanol through the end of 2011. UNICA is asking the Brazilian government to make the tariff elimination permanent if Congress will do the same and drop the U.S. tax on imported ethanol.

"Consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs. The same principle holds true for the renewable fuels market where competition will create a race to the future and generate better alternatives for consumers. Americans will benefit from having the sweeter alternative - sugarcane ethanol - available as an option at the pump," Velasco concluded.

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing nearly two-thirds of all sugarcane production and processing in the country. UNICA's priorities include serving as a source for credible information and analysis about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane products, particularly its biofuels. The association works to encourage the continuous advancement of sustainable practices throughout the sugarcane industry and to promote biofuels as a clean, reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

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