In The Times’ article, “Senate votes to repeal ethanol tax credits,” (June 16, 2011) it is disappointing that the motivations behind the Senate’s vote are cited as purely economic—potential environmental impacts of ethanol production must also be recognized. Similarly, it is disheartening that the impacts on Brazil, the world’s largest ethanol producer, are only briefly mentioned.
Brazil’s ethanol industry supported the U.S Senate’s vote because the decision enables Brazilian ethanol to compete with U.S. biofuels. However, since the Second U.S.-Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue earlier this month concluded with a commitment to partnership and a goal of sustainability, and given the disruption to ecosystems associated with ethanol production, it would be wise to phase out ethanol fuel in Brazil. Therefore, the United States should discourage Brazil’s current plan to subsidize sugarcane production and increase ethanol production. In our globalized world, focusing solely on the U.S. economy is unacceptable and impractical. Given the importance of cooperation in order to achieve sustainability, ignoring the commitment to make headway with Brazil in terms of sustainability belittles our international partnership and strides in environmental efforts. The U.S. has an obligation to share concerns about ethanol with Brazil in order to fully meet the commitments of the nations’ relationship.
Rosie Gorn, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs