The ethanol industry faced unexpected challenges in 2012, but it’s still standing and it’s fighting back, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said this morning.

Giving his State of the Industry address at the National Ethanol Conference in Las Vegas, Dinneen noted how nationwide drought last year hurt corn supplies, the feedstock used by most ethanol producers. Further, he added, opponents in Big Oil and Big Food launched an assault on ethanol and tax incentives and policies that are helping the industry expand.

“We’ve faced the worst, and we’re still here,” Dinneen said. “We will not go away. We will not give up. We will rebound and continue to build this industry into a juggernaut of innovation, efficiency and promise.”

He likened the industry’s situation to that of England during the Blitz in World War II, citing Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s grim determination that eventually brought down Germany’s Luftwaffe.

“The real story of 2012 isn’t that we kept taking hits,” Dinneen said. “The real story isn’t that, sometimes, we got knocked down. The real story is that we kept on bouncing back.”

Despite attacks from food and oil lobby groups, as well as the worst drought in 50 years, fueling stations began selling E15, a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in 2012, making up 9.7% of the nation’s motor fuel, Dinneen said. About 36.6 metric tons of livestock feed, a byproduct of ethanol production, were made, and 87,000 direct jobs and 295,000 indirect jobs were supported by the industry.

Cellulosic ethanol saw significant milestones in 2012, Dinneen noted. The first commercial cellulosic-ethanol plant began operations, and there are more under construction.

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