The United States and Brazil, the world’s largest ethanol producers, have expanded their energy cooperation with the goal of promoting the use and production of biofuels throughout the Western Hemisphere and Africa.
The announcement by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim not only advances the countries’ shared objectives on energy security, sustainable development and environmental protection, but makes good on their previous agreement to help develop sustainable biofuels industries in third countries.
The collaboration between the 2 countries, which together produce almost 70 percent of the world’s ethanol, was announced in March 2007 with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), designed to advance research and development of biofuels bilaterally, assist production in other countries interested in developing domestic biofuels industries, and work multilaterally to advance the commoditization of biofuels.
U.S. Ambassador Reno Harnish of the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science noted the progress of the memorandum:
“Our cooperation with Brazil, which has already produced research and development cooperation, now is being spread: Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. We started out about a year ago with 4 countries: Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador, and St. Kitts and Nevis. It’s been so successful, at this meeting we expanded that to include Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau.”
Biofuels are valued for several potential benefits, namely their ability to reduce a country’s environmental impact and foreign dependency related to petroleum-based fuels. The use of biofuels has been cited as reducing emissions of pollutants relative to gasoline, as well as lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Just as important, however, is the fact that sustainable biofuels can be produced domestically to displace some petroleum that would otherwise be imported, while creating jobs in developing countries that face enormous social and economic challenges.
As a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress established a Renewable Fuel Standard, which each year requires a certain amount of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline. The mandate increases annually and will reach 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. Current use of biofuels in U.S. gasoline already exceeds this mandate, and in 2007 Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandates that the U.S. use 36 billion gallons of biofuels in gasoline by 2022. As a result, U.S. ethanol production capacity is expected to grow rapidly within the next few years. The expanded cooperation between the United States and Brazil is another signal of the U.S. government’s commitment to supporting research and development of new biofuels technolog