Awareness of benefits, subsidies can improve ethanol image - poll

06 February 2013 23:33  [Source: ICIS news]

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (ICIS)--Americans may have a more favourable impression of the US ethanol industry if they are more informed about it, an executive at a public opinion research firm said on Wednesday.

An American Viewpoint poll found that 40% of Americans are initially in favour of ethanol, while 28% oppose it, said Linda DiVall, president and CEO of the company. When presented with information about ethanol benefits and clarification about government subsidies, 56% were in favour of it, while 31% opposed it.

DiVall presented the polling results at the National Ethanol Conference in Las Vegas.

“The ethanol industry has been confronted with many challenges - a lack of awareness, a very powerful opposition that is perpetuating myths and an uneven playing field with Big Oil,” DiVall said.

“The goal is to increase awareness of ethanol and deliver it in a positive way,” she added.

DiVall said factors that hinder ethanol’s image are uncertainties about engine performance, questions about fuel efficiency and costs, and opposition in the food industry.

From results that indicated which issues were important to Americans, DiVall said the message for improving ethanol’s image should include green energy, job creation and reduction of gas prices, reference to ethanol as a more efficient biofuel, as well as clarification on government subsidies.

The poll showed that 34% of people thought that ethanol producers were receiving federal subsidies, while only 2% knew this was no longer the case.

Also, only 25% supported government subsidies and tax incentives that oil companies received for equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances and foreign investment tax credits - compared to the 63% who opposed them.

DiVall said the ethanol industry should make Americans more aware that it is no longer receiving government subsidies while the oil industry still is.

In addition, respondents were asked if they would support a renewable fuels standard (RFS) that requires a certain amount of fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, biodiesel or other renewable sources in order to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

The poll said 64% favoured the requirement and 25% opposed it, indicating Americans see value in the US mandate in strengthening ethanol’s future, DiVall said.

“The ethanol industry has a compelling narrative to advance to consumers - it significantly reduces greenhouse gases, lowers our dependence on foreign oil, creates quality jobs, reduces fuel costs for Americans and is serving to advance further innovations in renewable fuels,” she said.

“It is time for Big Oil to get out of the way of progress,” she added. “Americans are clearly interested in fuel choices that are made by Americans for Americans using renewable sources and with money-saving, environmentally-friendly benefits.”

By: Tracy Dang
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