A View from the Hill

Growing Season
By Bob Dineen | May 01, 2006
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As the weather turns warm and the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C., farmers across the country prepare for yet another growing season. Not unlike those farmers, the ethanol industry is preparing for a season of tremendous growth as well. This growth has been a long time coming, and with this rapid growth comes increased attention.

Such is the situation that the U.S. ethanol industry finds itself in today. With gasoline refiners making a unilateral decision to remove MTBE voluntarily by May, critics of ethanol have been quick to point the finger as gasoline prices react to refiners' decisions.

We have heard these dire prognostications before: there isn't enough ethanol, ethanol won't be able to make it to market because it can't be shipped by pipeline, and on and on. These arguments, as they always have been, are devoid of truth.

As I am writing this, more than 2 billion gallons of additional production capacity are under construction. One quarter of that, some 500 million gallons, will be in production by mid-summer. An additional 900 million gallons of capacity will come on line in the second half of 2006. American ethanol producers are doing their part to increase production to meet this new demand.

Likewise, ethanol producers are working closely with their refiner customers, gasoline marketers, terminal operators and transportation companies to ensure the infrastructure is in place to make this transition as successful as those in California, New York and Connecticut. This means making the most of the "virtual pipeline" the industry has developed by utilizing rail, barge and truck options to bring ethanol to consumers. It means employing transitional and long-term solutions simultaneously in places like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Providence and Dallas to deliver ethanol today, as well as far into the future. It also means recognizing the investments the refining industry is making in the infrastructure necessary to store and blend ethanol.

Simply put, America's ethanol industry is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Following the lead of farmers across the country, the ethanol industry has rolled up its sleeves and done the work necessary to make this growing season a success. And like those farmers, this fall Americans will reap the benefits of a more robust renewable fuels industry.