The U.S. could export significantly more ethanol to Japan following a regulatory change that improves the biofuel's carbon score, Biden administration officials and U.S. lobbying groups said Friday.

“We applaud Japan for publishing its new biofuels policy, which will help promote a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. This new policy is also a big win for American farmers and our rural economy, as it will expand U.S. biofuel producers’ access to the Japanese market,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

“We look forward to continuing to engage with the Japanese government as it implements this standard and to furthering our nations’ deep economic relationship.”

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry effectively amended the country’s “Sophisticated Methods of Energy Supply Structures Act” to give U.S. ethanol a better rating for fighting climate change. That, in turn, allows the imported fuel “to successfully access 100% of the Japanese biofuel market,” according to a statement released Friday by the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and Renewable Fuels Association.

“The U.S. ethanol community applauds the Japanese government for joining other countries in recognizing the role ethanol can play in the global effort to address climate change at the same time it takes steps to decarbonize its transportation sector,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Countries around the world are recognizing that biofuels like ethanol are a simple, inexpensive and effective solution they can deploy today to help them lower their carbon emissions and meet their climate goals.”

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

U.S. ethanol exports to Japan could increase by 80 million gallons, or as much as $200 million annually, thanks to the amendment, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which pledged to help boost Japan’s demand for the corn-based fuel.

The Japanese fuel law must be renewed every five years.

“The new biofuels policy Japan announced today is the result of close collaboration between our two countries and it will further allow U.S. producers to meet Japan’s demand for more diverse energy sources,” USTR Katherine Tai said.