WASHINGTON – Two Democrat and two Republican senators have introduced legislation aimed at ensuring that ethanol importers do not unfairly take advantage of the growing demand for ethanol-based fuels.
The legislation, introduced by Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., follows news that two multi-national corporations plan to import duty-free Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol into the United States.
Their provision would make certain that American farmers, and not importers, benefit from the renewable fuel standard pending in Congress.
The legislation was applauded by farm groups such as the National Farmers Union.
"Farmers across the nation have been waiting patiently for the enactment of a renewable fuels standard, and some are astounded at recent reports that imports of ethanol from Brazil might be allowed to compete with domestic supplies," said NFU President Dave Frederickson.
"Our farmers have always assumed that the RFS would make us more independent of foreign sources of energy and particularly imported foreign transportation fuels. Senator Daschle's legislation would assure that imports do not count toward RFS goals, thereby displacing domestic ethanol in the marketplace. We feel this will be an added incentive to moving RFS legislation in Congress."
Farm organizations have long supported the bipartisan Daschle-Lugar RFS, which would increase domestic ethanol demand from 3 billion gallons per year to more than 5 billion gallons per year over the next decade.
Frederickson said the RFS program contain in the energy bill that has been slowly winding its way through Congress was designed to stimulate domestic production and enhance US energy security, not to create a market opportunity for foreign ethanol.
"Farmer-owned ethanol production facilities that were formed in anticipation of increased demand for ethanol generated by a national RFS would be rightly concerned if a national RFS is not enacted or stymied by increased foreign ethanol imports," Frederickson said.
"It is likely that these newer, smaller cooperative production facilities will no longer be needed if cheap foreign imports are allowed to compete with domestic supply."