the (new) american worker

America, Say Hello to Ethanol
April 25, 2010, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Energy | Tags: , , , , , , ,

American ethanol producers like Poet Energy recently kicked off the industry's first national television campaign.

I’ve recently noticed a flood of television ads from “Poet” Energy touting the upsides of ethanol biofuel – in one, a young woman in a lab coat stands in Times Square and proclaims that she is a part-time scientist, full-time Poet (cute) – and I wondered, who is Poet Energy? Well, apparently, they are the world’s largest ethanol producer and these TV spots are the beginning of their first national television advertising campaign, according to Ethanol Producer magazine.

Poet isn’t the only producer of corn-based ethanol, or “America’s fuel,” as advocates call it, to begin a major ad campaign this month. Growth Energy, represented by such big-wigs as former General (and presidential aspirant) Wesley Clark, also kicked off TV spots this month. Growth’s simple ads flash dramatic oneliners like ““No beaches have been closed due to ethanol spills,” and “We won’t have to wait millions of years to replenish our ethanol reserves,” driving home a clear message: support ethanol and you support a clean, independent source of energy. According to EP, ethanol producers don’t believe they have been given enough credit within the recent push for homegrown energy sources, likely because ethanol has previously been associated with destructive farming practices that are, according to Growth CEO Buis, a far cry from how the industry operates today.

Getting a fair shot at home doesn’t seem to be the only reason, however, that American ethanol producers are angling for a turn in the spotlight. According to the National Journal, companies like Growth and Poet are also stepping up efforts to discourage U.S. lawmakers from allowing a 54 cent tariff on imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to expire at the end of 2010. While Americans can produce sugarcane ethanol, it is predominantly grown in Brazil, where it too is criticized for environmentally suspect methods of production. Brazil recently announced that it will lift its tariff on imported U.S. ethanol, while also claiming that sugarcane ethanol averages 50 cents less per gallon than corn ethanol. It’s seems pretty clear that Brazil is playing hardball, and U.S. producers are fighting back, with these multi-million dollar campaigns. Whatever happens, it’s been interesting to finally get a look at the players in the ethanol market, which certainly does go unnoticed amidst renewable stars like solar and wind.