Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sugared Ethanol

Thomas Friedman in his column in the New York Times asked if the 54 cent a gallon tariff that the US has placed on Brazilian sugar ethanol is stupid or really stupid. The answer he got (from the Brazilian energy secretary though Friedman is in complete agreement) is that it is really stupid. Sugar cane ethanol produces more energy and less green house gas than corn based ethanol but the first presidential caucus is in Iowa and no one wanting to be president can not do whatever the Iowa ethanol lobby wants. It is interesting that the only energy imports with a tariff as the sugar cane ethanol. Not oil or natural gas which compete with domestic producers very well but I guess we would rather pay Hugo Chavez and what's his face from Iran than some poor farmers in Brazil who may actually like us.

What is this might mean though is a windfall to Florida sugar producers who have been demanding federal subsidies in their never ending battle to destroy the Everglades. Now they have a new arguement. "Hey, we're making gas!"

I have not included a link to the column because the New York Times has it locked behind their subscription wall. NYT columnists are traditionally the most influential in the country so what does the paper do, severely restrict access to them thereby marginalizing them. It is only a matter of time before others will ascend to primacy in the national debate simply because more people will be able to read what they have to say.


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