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Can the U.S. Ethanol Industry Compete in the Alternative Fuels' Market?

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  • Zhang, Zibin
  • Vedenov, Dmitry V.
  • Wetzstein, Michael E.

Abstract

The U.S. ethanol fuel industry has experienced preferential treatment from federal and state governments ever since the Energy Tax Act of 1978 exempted 10% ethanol/gasoline blend (gasohol) from the federal excise tax. Combined with a 54¢/gal ethanol import tariff, this exemption was designed to provide incentives for the establishment and development of a U.S. ethanol industry. Despite these tax exemptions, until recently, the U.S. ethanol fuel industry was unable to expand from a limited regional market. Ethanol was dominated in the market by MTBE (methyl-tertiary-butyl ether). Only after MTBE was found to contaminate groundwater and consequently banned in many states did the demand for ethanol expand nationally. Limit pricing on the part of MTBE refiners is one hypothesis that may explain this lack of ethanol entry into the fuel-additives market. As a test of this hypothesis, a structural vector autoregression (SVAR) model of the ethanol fuel market is developed. The results support the hypothesis of limit-pricing behavior on the part of MTBE refiners, and suggest the U.S. corn-based ethanol industry is vulnerable to limit-price competition, which could recur. The dependence of corn-based ethanol price on supply determinants limits U.S. ethanol refiners' ability to price compete with sugar cane-based ethanol refiners. Without federal support, U.S. ethanol refiners may find it difficult to complete with cheaper sugar cane-refined ethanol, chiefly from Brazil.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Zibin & Vedenov, Dmitry V. & Wetzstein, Michael E., 2007. "Can the U.S. Ethanol Industry Compete in the Alternative Fuels' Market?," 2007 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2007, Mobile, Alabama 34867, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:saeasm:34867
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/34867/files/sp07zh01.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eckert, Andrew & West, Douglas S., 2005. "Price uniformity and competition in a retail gasoline market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 219-237, February.
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    3. Prabal Roy Chowdhury, 2002. "Limit-pricing as Bertrand equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 19(4), pages 811-822.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bastianin, Andrea & Galeotti, Marzio & Manera, Matteo, 2014. "Causality and predictability in distribution: The ethanol–food price relation revisited," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 152-160.
    2. Elmarzougui, Eskandar & Larue, Bruno, 2011. "On the Evolving Relationship between Corn and Oil Prices," Working Papers 118580, University of Laval, Center for Research on the Economics of the Environment, Agri-food, Transports and Energy (CREATE).
    3. Eskandar Elmarzougui & Bruno Larue, 2013. "On the Evolving Relationship Between Corn and Oil Prices," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 344-360, June.
    4. Maslyuk, Svetlana & Dharmaratna, Dinusha, 2013. "Renewable Electricity Generation, CO2 Emissions and Economic Growth: Evidence from Middle-Income Countries in Asia /Generación de electricidad renovable, las emisiones de CO2 y crecimiento económico: ," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 217-244, Enero.
    5. Qiu, Cheng & Colson, Gregory & Escalante, Cesar & Wetzstein, Michael, 2012. "Considering macroeconomic indicators in the food before fuel nexus," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2021-2028.
    6. Xian, Hui & Colson, Gregory & Karali, Berna & Wetzstein, Michael, 2017. "Do nonrenewable-energy prices affect renewable-energy volatility? The case of wood pellets," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 42-48.
    7. Mindy L. Mallory & Dermot J. Hayes & Bruce A. Babcock, 2011. "Crop-Based Biofuel Production with Acreage Competition and Uncertainty," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(4), pages 610-627.
    8. Kentaka Aruga & Shunsuke Managi, 2013. "Linkages among the US energy futures markets," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 36(1), pages 13-26.
    9. McPhail, Lihong Lu, 2011. "Assessing the impact of US ethanol on fossil fuel markets: A structural VAR approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1177-1185.
    10. Catherine Hausman & Maximilian Auffhammer & Peter Berck, 2012. "Farm Acreage Shocks and Crop Prices: An SVAR Approach to Understanding the Impacts of Biofuels," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 53(1), pages 117-136, September.
    11. Cha, Kyung Soo & Bae, Jeong Hwan, 2011. "Dynamic impacts of high oil prices on the bioethanol and feedstock markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 753-760, February.
    12. Zúniga-González, Carlos Alberto, 2012. "Total Factor Productivity And The Bio Economy Effects," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 122939, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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    Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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