Facing continued pressure from environmental groups opposed to increased mandates for ethanol production, world ethanol leaders took the offensive today, issuing their first joint statement in conjunction with F. O. Licht's World Ethanol Conference being held in Amsterdam.
"As oil prices soar to $100 per barrel and declining petroleum reserves become ever more costly to extract, it is vital that we move quickly to expand the production and availability of biofuels such as ethanol," says the statement by Gordon Quaiattini, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association; Robert Vierhout, secretary general of the European Bioethanol Fuel Association; Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association; and Marcos Jank, president of the Sugar Cane Industry Association (Brazil). The statement comes amid a brawl in Congress over an increased mandate for ethanol production.
Environmental groups, once largely neutral on ethanol, which replaces some gasoline consumption, are now mobilized against it, citing concerns that wild lands will be pushed into crop production, increased levels of pesticides and fertilizers, and some scientific study that indicates only a nominal difference in carbon emissions between petroleum and corn-based ethanol. The statement today tries to ease some concerns of critics. It makes the case that ethanol enhances rural life, relieving pressure on urban areas, and that emissions are indeed significantly reduced with ethanol use.
"Through cooperation and technology, we can responsibly and sustainably increase the production and use of renewable fuels and encourage others to take the essential first steps toward a more secure and stable energy and environmentally sensible future," say ethanol industry leaders.