At a press conference today, Florida governor Jeb Bush; Roberto Rodrigues, former Brazilian Minister of Agriculture and Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), announced the creation of the Interamerican Ethanol Commission.
Bush, Rodrigues and Moreno will serve as co-chairs of the commission which has as its mission to promote the usage of ethanol in the gasoline pools of the Americas.
Rodrigues who is the president of Fiesp’s (São Paulo State Industries Federation) Agribusiness Superior Council was joined by a distinguished Brazilian delegation that included Linneu Carlos da Costa Lima, Deputy Minister of Production and Agroenergy; Silvio Crestana, President of EMBRAPA; Eduardo de Carvalho, President of UNICA; Luis Custódio Cotta Martins, President of SINDAÇíšCAR – Minas Gerais; and Silas Oliva, Director of Petrobras.
Governor Bush was accompanied by several key board members and staff of Florida FTAA, including Ambassador Charles E. Cobb, Chairman of Florida FTAA; Brian C. Dean, Executive Director of Florida FTAA and the co-chairs of the Florida FTAA Ethanol Advocacy Committee: Jorge L. Arrizurieta, Chair, International Policy Group, Akerman Senterfitt; Dominique Virchaux, Managing Partner, Virchaux Partners; and Mario Fernandez, President, COFE Properties, LLC.
Moreno was joined by several key officials from the IDB, including senior staff of the bank’s section for Alternative Sources of Energy. Additional attendees included corporate leaders, scientific experts, and other local government leaders.
In addition, the launch featured championship IndyCar driver Vitor Meira, senior IndyCar executives, including Vice President for League Development John Lewis, and the Indy Ethanol Show Car.
IndyCar is adopting 100% ethanol as its fuel of choice for the 2007 racing season, which begins at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday March 24.
Both IndyCar and its racing partner the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) were honored at the launch with the 2007 Akerman Senterfitt Ethanol Innovator in Sports Award.
According to IndyCar executives, "ethanol is less costly, better for the environment, and is a superior octane burner, actually increasing the speed and power the sport demands."
Tom Slunecka, Executive Director of EPIC, commented that "the IndyCar Series choice of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol…sends a message to consumers that performance and environmental responsibility go hand in hand when choosing ethanol-enriched fuel at the pump."
Bush, Rodrigues, and Moreno discussed the main objectives of the commission, which include: promoting increased ethanol blended fuel use throughout the region; promoting the integration of technical and scientific research efforts across the hemisphere related to the production and distribution of ethanol; determining investment needs in both agriculture and infrastructure to enable a hemispheric wide market for ethanol blended fuel; determining the economic and environmental implications of carbon credits produced by the project; encouraging the development of environmentally sound ethanol operations; and recommending a set of actions in order to create an international market for ethanol.
The commission will educate governments and legislatures throughout the hemisphere on ethanol through a series of "road shows." In addition to disseminating information, generating media coverage, and promoting public discussion of the benefits of ethanol, these road shows will secure partnerships from local officials and interested groups in order to expand ethanol usage and production for export.
Former Minister Rodrigues spoke of Brazil’s role as a global leader in ethanol technology, production and distribution, pointing out that the country produces approximately 4 billion gallons of ethanol annually.
He stated that "Brazil’s ethanol capacities and technology position the nation to provide leadership throughout the hemisphere," and emphasized that "now, with the partnership of the State of Florida and the establishment of a formal forum of cooperation through the commission, countries throughout the Americas will benefit from the expansion of ethanol usage and production." Brazil is Florida’s top trading partner, with two-way trade totaling 10.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2005.
Governor Bush emphasized the potential role the committee can play in contributing to decreasing U.S. dependence on imported oil by means of diversifying the United States’ fuel economy.
He stated, "Through this commission, Florida has a great opportunity to be on the forefront of promoting an energy policy that strengthens our national security, stimulates economic development, increases protection for our environment and promotes free trade within the hemisphere."
Moreno’s participation in and support for the Interamerican Ethanol Commission reflects his perspective that the commission will serve to spur economic development and to alleviate poverty in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
The three leaders agreed that cooperation on renewable energy has the potential to serve as a uniting force in the Americas, contributing toward economic growth and a cleaner environment. All three alluded to the significant opportunities expanded ethanol production holds for sustainable development and job creation throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The idea to form this commission grew out of a policy proposal Governor Bush submitted to Washington in April. His "Hemispheric Wide Approach to Ethanol," holds that the United States should adopt a bold initiative to pump 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually into the marketplace by 2015 ("15 by ’15") – nearly 10% of current national demand for gasoline and double the amount required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.