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At the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando this week, the president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association—Bob Dinneen—talked about challenges facing the ethanol industry.

Perhaps its most “vexing” challenge, Dinneen says, will be to restore and grow political and public support for ethanol—and biofuels in general.

“We have been a victim of our success—because as we have grown rapidly over the past several years, those who object to our industry taking more of the barrel, and those who object to fair grain prices, have joined together in a well-financed and highly motivated coalition against the continued growth of this industry,” Dinneen says.

“The angry birds, mad cows and fracking fanatics have succeeded in swinging the pendulum decidedly against biofuels,” he continues. “Certainly, if viewed from the lens of public perception, the state of the U.S. ethanol industry would be frustratingly, but decidedly, negative.

Dineen says it will take time to change that negative perception of ethanol.  He says the industry needs to rebuild public support locally—one community at a time.

“There are ethanol production facilities in operation or under construction in 29 states across the country. There are suppliers and venders benefitting from this industry in all 50 states,” Dinneen says. “We need to educate community leaders, businesses and political representatives of the very real impact our industry is having in these communities.

“We have a great story to tell, we need to tell it—and tell it we will.”

Dinneen says the emergence of the ethanol industry over the past decade has been the key to the economic revitalization of rural America.

AUDIO: Bob Dinneen’s “State of the Industry” address at the 2012 National Ethanol Conference (30:18 MP3) contributed to this story.