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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The American Coalition for Ethanol opened its annual convention here yesterday, well aware it's no longer championing an obscure industry. And while officials with the organization are happy the industry is getting such attention and investment capital, the event will address making sure those trying to jump on the bandwagon don't push it into a glut.
"We want to balance the need to grow the industry with growing the industry in a responsible way," the group's executive vice president Brian Jennings told The Associated Press.
Tied to that balance are the coalition's efforts to expand the market for ethanol, such as getting states to require ethanol-blended fuels and working with oil companies to sell ethanol blends at their station pumps. "We rely on our competitors to make our product available," Jennings said in the newspaper. "We need to make sure we are developing the product with them."
Officials with the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based organization, founded 19 years ago to link farmers with those wanting to make the corn-based alternative fuel, said for the first time, they had to limit attendance at the convention this year to 1,500 people.
In the past year alone, the group's membership jumped 64 percent to 1,230 members. "It's unrecognizable from where it was five or 10 years ago," Jennings said.
Skyrocketing fuel prices and federal requirements for greater use of alternative fuel have made the relatively unknown fuel ubiquitous, according to the Associated Press. Ninety-seven ethanol plants around the country are pumping out 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol per year, and 33 more plants are under construction, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, who earlier this year signed into law legislation requiring the state's gas stations to sell ethanol-blended gasoline beginning in 2008, is scheduled to address the convention today, the report said. He'll be joined by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, chairwoman of the 35-member Governors' Ethanol Coalition.