Mandates, Tax Credits, and Tariffs: Does the U.S. Biofuels Industry Need Them All?

Bruce A. Babcock
March 2010  [10-PB 1]

Expanded mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard provide ethanol and biodiesel producers a guaranteed future market at volumes that exceed what they have produced in the past. Despite having these mandates in place, biofuel producers continue to support tax credits and ethanol import tariffs. An examination of how the new mandates will be implemented shows that biofuel producers will receive little or no additional benefit from tax credits. Ethanol import tariffs will continue to provide U.S. corn ethanol producers a cost advantage over imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol until at least 2013 when the demand for sugarcane ethanol to meet the noncellulosic advanced biofuel mandate starts to increase.

Keywords: biodiesel, biofuel tax credit, biofuels mandates, corn ethanol, ethanol import tariffs, fuel subsidies, sugarcane ethanol, Renewable Identification Numbers.

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