Growing Pains Making Headlines

Cindy Zimmerman

It was Irish author Brendan Behan who said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity – except your own obituary,” and the ethanol industry is getting a dose of it here with an AP article that has gotten picked up more than most of the positive stories written about ethanol in the past two months. Actually, it’s not really that bad in terms of publicity. All it says is that the ethanol industry is going to experience some growing pains in the next few months with demand exceeding supplies, leading to higher prices. For most businesses, that would be seen as a GOOD thing. But, this article makes it sound like it will be the end of the world. After a spurt of good fortune, the fledgling U.S. ethanol industry is anticipating some growing pains that could bring it unwanted attention this summer…..there’s trouble looming: The ethanol industry might not be ready to satisfy the expected summertime jump in demand. And by crimping the overall supply of motor fuel, this could contribute to a spike in gasoline pump prices at the start of the country’s peak driving season. Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen does admit there will be a short-term supply crunch caused by the oil industry’s faster-than-expected phaseout of MTBE. “Refiners made the decision to accelerate the removal of MTBE, not ethanol producers,” Dinneen said. Still, increased demand is not a bad thing – as long as the industry remains transparent on the issue and does all it can to make it as short term as possible.