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Cagle says US can learn from Brazil about biofuels, energency independence
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Lt. Gov.Casey Cagle talks about what Georgia and the U.S. can learn about energy independence during his trip to Brazil.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Wednesday that the U.S. can learn much about energy independence from Brazil.

Cagle, who spoke to The Times from Brasilia, the capital city, is leading a multiday trade mission to the South American nation. This is Cagle’s first trade mission as the lead representative of the state. He traveled to Europe last year with Gov. Sonny Perdue.

This mission has been focused on gathering information and establishing relationships with Brazil’s ethanol production businesses.

He said that gas stations in Brazil offer consumers a choice of gasoline, ethanol or a blend of the two products.

Cagle said he hopes Georgia can produce alternative fuels at a substantial savings.

"We’ve had some very significant conversations with industry leaders as to ways we can create this market in both the U.S. and Georgia," Cagle said. "I want to position Georgia as a real leader in the use of ethanol. The economics work on it, and you are not dependent on foreign oil."

Cagle is hopeful of creating a more formal relationship between Brazilian representatives and Georgia’s research universities for an exchange on alternative fuels.

Among those traveling with Cagle is Ron Barmore of Range Fuels, a Colorado company that is building an ethanol plant in Soperton, about 70 miles east of Macon. The plans call for production of ethanol from cellulose, which would be extracted from pine trees.

The relationship between Georgia and Brazil has been bolstered in the past few years following a 2004 visit to the country by Perdue, who secured a commitment to open a consulate in Atlanta. The diplomatic office opened in February.

Brazil is also a major trade source for Georgia. State figures showed that Brazil is the 11th largest export destination for Georgia, receiving $495 million in goods in 2007. Georgia, in turn, imported $915 million in Brazilian goods.

Fuel has been the dominant topic of Cagle’s mission to Brazil. With its stepped-up ethanol production and expanded oil production, Brazil is now self-sufficient when it comes to energy.

Cagle’s trip has taken him to Sao Paolo, Brasilia and Rio De Janeiro. Cagle and his group met with representatives of Petrobras, Brazil’s largest fuel company.

Cagle also spoke at a lunch meeting of Brazilian biofuel companies, urging them to make Georgia a part of future growth.