What's wrong with this picture? The U.S. trade deficit widened significantly in January, mainly due to the continuing increase in the price of imported petroleum. Yet, less expensive, job-creating, domestically-produced ethanol stocks remain near record levels, ethanol production is slowing, and developers of next generation cellulosic ethanol plants, with demonstrated technologies, are having a hard time raising capital to build commercial scale plants.
According to a Commerce Department blog March 9 , "Last year, the petroleum-related trade deficit totaled $265 billion and accounted for 42 percent of our total deficit in goods." Despite declining petroleum import dependence, rising global petroleum prices boosted the petroleum-related trade deficit by another 3.3 percent in January to $39.1 billion – 44.68 percent of the trade deficit in goods, according to USA Today . Yet, the U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that as of March 9, the U.S. had a near-record surplus - 22 million barrels - of domestically-produced ethanol on hand. And, Bloomberg /Businessweek reports that ethanol production is down again this week by 1.6 percent below the previous week to under 900,000 barrels per day. As previously reported , many existing ethanol plants are cutting back production or shutting down.
The White House is trying to make the case to voters on the White House website and in other communications that, during the Obama Administration, significant progress has been made to reduce U.S. petroleum dependence and gasoline prices. Indeed, there has been significant progress. But nowhere in the impressive infographics is there any mention of the role of biofuels in reducing U.S. petroleum dependence – past, present or future.