Give Me a Renewable Future

Ethanol enhances America's economy by creating jobs, raising the GDP, increasing incomes and contributing taxes. The positive economics are due to the hard work of community-based ethanol producers, hard-working employees and local farmers.
By Bob Dinneen | February 18, 2014

There has been significant fascination with the fracking fever in North Dakota, where towns are booming and unemployment is falling. Indeed, politicians are tripping over themselves trumpeting the economic and energy success of America’s newfound energy bonanza.  And while we should all be encouraged by the increased employment, I would caution some of those caught up in the irrational exuberance of the boom that there may all too soon be the devastating reality of the bust.  After all, oil is a finite resource.  And tight oil supplies procured through fracking can be fleeting.  

Fracking does a hit and run. It’s a case of fast, furious and forgotten.  Ethanol, on the other hand, is not a grab and go industry, it is here for the long haul.  Ethanol is a renewable energy resource, which means our jobs, our investment and our commitment to the community is renewable also.  Ethanol facilities create permanent structures, offering stable jobs and engraining themselves as an integral part of the local community. A recent analysis conducted for the Renewable Fuels Association by ABF Economics, “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States,” shows that ethanol is enhancing America’s economy by creating jobs, raising the national gross domestic product (GDP), increasing household income and contributing to federal, state and local tax revenue.

The positive results found in this analysis are most certainly due to the hard work of community-based ethanol producers, hard-working employees and local farmers sharing the goal of creating a green, renewable, environmentally friendly alternative to oil production.  They don’t leave town when the well runs dry.  They plant another crop, distill some more ethanol and continue to invest in the community.

After crunching the numbers, the analysis found that the ethanol industry created and sustained 386,782 jobs in 2013. The data shows that in 2013 the industry created 86,504 direct jobs, 87,164 indirect jobs, and 213,113 induced jobs. Ethanol-related jobs encompass many sectors of the workforce including agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation and public utilities, wholesale and retail trade, services and government. Jobs are hard to come by, especially in rural America, but these jobs do more than just provide income to individuals and families. They provide stability, encourage community involvement and further rural revitalization.

The numbers also show the ethanol industry’s contribution—$30.7 billion—to household incomes. This extra household income can make all the difference for families in need. The extra income helps families pay bills on time, enroll kids in extracurricular programs or pay for much needed household essentials.   

The ethanol industry invests in rural communities and is here for the long haul. The data finds that last year the industry contributed $44 billion to the national GDP through ethanol production, construction, agriculture, and research and development.  The industry also gave back more than $4.5 billion in federal taxes and $3.8 billion in state and local taxes that will go to pay for firefighters, first responders and local schools.

Look, every job is important.  But where would you rather live?  Do you want a community that enjoys a stable economic footing, or one tethered to a well with a limited and costly lifespan?  Do you want a neighbor you can count on to be there through thick and thin, or one whose bag is always packed in anticipation of the next gusher?  Do you want a secure energy and economic future, or are you satisfied with the fix fracking offers? 

To me it’s pretty simple: let the frackers frack, but give me a renewable future.

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association