Brazilian model: An American neighbor finds energy self-sufficiency

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Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Antonio de Aguiar Patriota paid his first visit to Pittsburgh last week.

He came to receive an honorary degree at Chatham University as part of its Global Focus Program this year on Brazil and Latin America. He also met with Pittsburgh's small, but active, Brazilian community and established lines to business and cultural figures here.

In his talks, the ambassador made some intriguing points about Brazil's approach to problems that are near and dear to North Americans' hearts. The most compelling, in light of the recent turmoil in the U.S. economy and America's never-ending fuel dependence, is the fact that Brazil is now energy self-sufficient.

Through policies that it has pursued deliberately since after the painful jolt of the 1970s, Brazil has put together a national program that combines the production and use of nonfossil fuels and the manufacture of vehicles that are flex-fuel -- that is, which can run on both petroleum or other fuels -- to achieve the happy state of freedom from oil imports from Middle Eastern, Russian or Venezuelan suppliers to keep its cars running and its economy buzzing.

With the discovery of deep-sea oil deposits, it considers itself to be set in that regard for the next hundred years. After that, Mr. Patriota says, who knows where we will all be? And Brazil secured all this without a futile invasion of an oil-producing country.


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