More Than Simply Numbers

While both numbers and personal stories show the benefits of the ethanol industry many politicians and naysayers are continuing their attacks on the industry, writes Bob Dinneen of the Renewable Fuels Association.
By Bob Dinneen | March 17, 2015

The mathematician Shakuntala Devi once said, “Numbers have life; they’re not just symbols on paper.” That is particularly true when the numbers are telling the story of the U.S. ethanol industry. 

John Urbanchuk of ABF Economics recently unveiled a study titled “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of the United States in 2014.” The report, produced on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association, is chock-full of vital and important information that gives a comprehensive overview of the ethanol industry and highlights its benefits to local communities, the national economy and our country’s energy security.

The study shows that last year ethanol production hit an all-time high of 14.3 billion gallons, which upheld 83,949 direct jobs, 148,684 indirect jobs and 146,582 induced jobs. The study details the $52.7 billion the industry added to the national GDP in 2014, the $5.7 billion in federal taxes, $4.6 billion in state and local taxes, and $26.7 billion to family incomes. Moreover, the ethanol industry’s 14.3 billion gallons saved the country nearly $49 billion by replacing 515 million barrels of petroleum. The RFA used these numbers to shine a spotlight on the value-added benefit of ethanol production showing that every $1 spent on the input feedstock to produce ethanol yielded $1.83 in finished product and DDGS.

Numbers have life and these numbers are a reflection of the personal stories and ways the industry is impacting individuals and communities alike. The numbers reflect the confidence of an employee as they get out of bed each morning and head to a wellpaying, stable job.  The numbers reflect the relief in a parent’s eye whose stable income allows them to afford school supplies for their children. The numbers reflect the joy of a young person who can move back to the community they love because an ethanol plant opened, creating jobs and supporting farm incomes. The numbers reflect the hustle and bustle of a busy street in a rural town where businesses were shutting down before an ethanol plant came to town.

Iowa realtor Reed Kuper put it like this: “The ethanol industry has been very positive to the entire Midwest. The communities that were once becoming ghost towns are now thriving, and I am seeing young people interested in agriculture again.”

Heartland Bank’s President and CEO Kevin Black put it another way, “I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that renewable fuels have created for my bank customers and the local economies. The amount of misinformation by those interests wanting to see an end to renewable fuels is extremely troubling and damaging to the consumer and our overall economy.”

It is unconscionable that while realtors, bank presidents, parents and teachers understand and appreciate the impact the ethanol industry has on communities and individuals all across America, many politicians and naysayers choose to ignore both the numbers and the personal stories and as they continue their attacks on the industry. We will fight against these attacks as the numbers and personal stories continue to grow. 

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association