Giving Thanks

By Bob Dinneen | October 06, 2009
It seems as though in the ethanol industry has been spending too much time moving from crisis to crisis lately, with little time to stop and appreciate just how far we have come.

Sure, we have faced our fair share of unfair criticism and scurrilous attack from those seeking to maintain the status quo or searching for an ideal that does not exist. We have seen it in the media, where our opponents have spent vast resources to demonize our industry. We have seen it in Congress, where oil patch members and environmental zealots have sought to limit the expansion of ethanol. And, we have seen it from the administration in its execution of the renewable fuel standard.

Focusing solely on these challenges distracts us from celebrating our accomplishments. Our industry will produce a record volume of ethanol this year. As a result, more distillers grains will be fed to livestock, fewer greenhouse gases will be emitted from our tailpipes, and more of our energy dollars will be invested in America as opposed to building indoor ski slopes in the deserts of Arabia.

This growing abundance of renewable fuel and feed means more Americans will be at work in rural areas all across the country. The continued growth of the industry also means that the impressive increases in the productivity of American farmers will find new markets and a fair market price.

In addition to increases in production, ethanol producers are improving their efficiencies. Whether it is better use of water resources, the creation of new co-products, or the development of new energy technologies to displace fossil fuels, a wave of innovation is sweeping over today's industry that is far too often underappreciated.

Next-generation technologies are providing even more optimism. Switchgrass, wood chips, corn cobs and a host of other products are joining grains as a source of domestic renewable fuel. Cellulosic ethanol facilities are being planned throughout the country and are poised to take their research from lab bench to commercial scale.

All of these exciting advancements will need a home. Our industry has worked hard to build the market for ethanol. The push for higher level blends will ultimately be successful, we believe, but the industry has not waited for this decision. We have worked to expand E85 infrastructure. We have launched new initiatives, such as the Blend Your Own program, to expand blender pump infrastructure.

And, we have had some fun along the way. We have taken our message about the future of this industry to new audiences. We are working with our colleagues across the globe through the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance to educate world leaders on the value of renewable fuels to every country. We took our message straight to small engine owners at the annual Sturgis, S.D., motorcycle rally.

I will be the first to admit that the challenges we face as an industry are many. But it is equally important we take stock of the accomplishments we have achieved and feel pride in the strides we have made.

America's ethanol producers are leading this country toward a new, renewable energy future. All of the buzz about new, revolutionary technologies would not have been possible without the success and continued innovation of the ethanol industry we have today.

On the whole, our cup runneth over, and for that we can all be thankful.