Due to pressure from Midwest farmers and agribusinesses, the United States has imposed a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff to prevent Americans from importing sugar ethanol from Brazil, writes Thomas Friedman in the NY Times (subscribers only):
Yes, you read all this right. We tax imported sugar ethanol, which could finance our poor friends, but we don't tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances our rich enemies. We'd rather power anti-Americans with our energy purchases than promote antipoverty.However, he also mentions that the Brazilian government is considering the expansion of the ethanol industry, which "could destroy the cerrado, the Brazilian savannah, another incredibly species-rich area" like the Amazon. "No wonder environmental activists are holding a conference in Germany this fall about the impact of biofuels. I could see some groups one day calling for an ethanol boycott - a la genetically modified foods - if they feel biofuels are raping the environment." Friedman, however, thinks ethanol can be promoted and the environment protected at the same time, if all involved parties sit down early.