Brazilian group cancels 54 per cent
gas discount promotion
Editor’s Note — After this article went live, SayEducate.com was contacted by a media representative for UNICA who insists that the group did not back down under pressure. Rather, “unspecified political influences” canceled the previously agreed upon event. Therefore, the headline for this article does not precisely explain what took place.
From the “no good deed goes unpunished department” we have this tidbit: UNICA, the Brazilian sugar ethanol industry group, was planning to back a one-day 54 cent drop in the price of straight gasoline at a pair of Capital Hill Exxon stations. That move was being funded by UNICA in a bid to spotlight the current 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, imposed several years ago by Congress to protect the US ethanol industry.
Though the tariff has helped farmers, it hasn’t helped drivers who often find ethanol fuel to be a terrible deal. Already some 20 to 30 percent less fuel efficient than straight gasoline, the price differential between the two fuels is often too small to make it worthwhile for Americans to fuel up with ethanol. Brazilian ethanol would help lower those prices which are set artificially high due to lack of competition, but political pressure seems to be keeping those savings away from American drivers.
Joel Velasco, UNICA’s chief representative in North America believes that it was political pressure that forced Exxon to back off from its plans to offer a deep discount to DC area drivers. One day after signage had been put in place announcing the discount, Capitol Petroleum Group canceled the deal even though the cost of paying for the discount was being covered by UNICA.
“Open market competition and free speech are two fundamental principles that have made the United States a global leader. It’s a shame that those values don’t seem to apply in this situation,” said Velasco.
Brazil is a leader in sugarcane based ethanol production, a fuel used in far greater numbers across this large South American country. Though some have debated the merits of ethanol, cars that can run on this fuel emit far fewer pollutants and enjoy greater performance. Importantly, ethanol decreases America’s dependency on Middle East oil and its wild price swings.
“While we are unclear who caused this sudden shift in plans, one thing is certain: consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs,” Velasco said. “UNICA will continue advocating for open market competition by encouraging Congress to end the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.”
“UNICA is still committed to making summer vacation a little less expensive and is working on details to make this discount a reality for Washingtonians,” concluded Velasco. The group is now planning to give away a substantial number of gasoline cards instead on a first-come, first-served basis. Details for this giveaway will be announced as soon as they are finalized.
UNICA represents two-thirds of all sugarcane producers and processors in Brazil. One of the goals of the association is to promote clean, reliable alternative to fossil fuels, particularly sugar derived ethanol.
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