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March 03, 2007
President Bush, hoping to reduce demand for oil in the Western Hemisphere, is preparing to finish an agreement with Brazil next week to promote the production and use of ethanol throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, according to administration officials.
Not a bad idea, in terms of promoting energy independence, though ethanol, like other biofuels, is generally overhyped. But there's also this objection:
But the agreement has already begun to prompt complaints from politicians from corn-producing regions of the United States. They fear that the plan would lead to an increase in imports of cheap foreign ethanol and undercut American producers.
That's stupid, or at least self-serving. In fact, we should get rid of the protectionist trade barriers that favor corn syrup over sugar anyway. Plus, there's this bonus:
By increasing ethanol production and consumption, particularly in countries that produce sugar, officials of the Bush administration hope to reduce the region’s overall dependence on foreign oil and to take some of the pressure off oil prices.
As a side effect, American officials contend, the program could also reduce the influence of Hugo Chavez, the president of oil-rich Venezuela.
Does that mean that the agribusiness interests who oppose this plan are unpatriotic?
UPDATE: Ethanol tariff protest babes! Well, pretty much.