RFA releases report, annual industry outlook during NEC

By Holly Jessen | February 12, 2013

The ethanol industry faced major challenges in 2012, while producing an estimated 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol, employing more than 383,000 people directly and indirectly as well as contributing $43.4 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product.

The information was contained in a 10-page report conducted by Cardno-Entrix, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association.  RFA released the report as well as its annual industry outlook and pocket guide, which contain information from the report and other sources, during the National Ethanol Conference, held Feb. 4 to 7 in Las Vegas.

“This past year, our nation’s ethanol industry has demonstrated its efficiency and resilience during one of the worst droughts in half a century,” RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Despite the weather and declining gasoline consumption, our domestic, homegrown industry kept up production, continued to improve the environment and helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The report contained some key numbers about the ethanol industry:

* 87,292 direct jobs were created

* 295,969 indirect and induced jobs were supported

* $30.2 billion in household income

* 465 million fewer barrels of imported oil needed, thanks to ethanol

* $7.9 billion paid in taxes on the federal, state and local level.

John Urbanchuk, technical director for environmental economics, prepared the report, which was titled, “Contributions of the ethanol industry to the economy of the United States.” He pointed to significant challenges the industry will face in 2013, including the effects of the drought, which as continued into the winter. “However, normal moisture in the spring and a return to more normal yields accompanied with large spring plantings would result in a large harvest and would put downward pressure on commodity prices—and feedstock costs,” he wrote in the report, adding that corn supplies would remain tight until harvest is completed.

Other challenges include the economy, future petroleum prices, declines in gasoline consumption and policy uncertainty. And, although the U.S. EPA approved E15 for more automobiles, implementation has been slow. “Despite a challenging year in 2012, the ethanol industry continues to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of job creation, generation of tax revenue, and displacement of imported crude oil,” he said in the report. “The importance of the ethanol industry to agriculture and rural economies is particularly notable. Continued growth and expansion of the ethanol industry into new technologies and feedstocks will enhance the industry’s position as the original creator of green jobs and will enable America to make further strides toward independence from imported fossil fuels.”

RFA’s industry outlook is a 30-page publication that pulls together important statistics about the ethanol industry, ranging from distillers grains, greenhouse gas emissions and the advanced biofuel industry. The pocket guide to ethanol is a smaller, easy to carry format in its third year of publication.