In December 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Among many other provisions, it increased the mandated volumes of renewable fuels in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
One of these RFS mandates is called advanced biofuels. The statutory volume of advanced biofuels increases every year, and sugarcane ethanol qualifies for this category. Therefore, RFS compliance incentivizes domestic production and imports of sugarcane ethanol.
Imports of ethanol are reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) by country of origin. In 2012 and 2013, about 400 million gallons of ethanol were imported each year from Brazil and Caribbean/Central American countries. In addition, about 500 million gallons of biomass-based diesel and renewable diesel were imported in 2013.
Of course, importing millions of gallons of biofuels is ironic, since the RFS was expanded by legislation that has energy independence in its title.