Despite a stagnant market, ethanol is still pumping from the Heartland

BRIDGET MACDONALD – MEDILL NEWS SERVICE

Although the ethanol market has been flooded with surplus over the past several months, forcing many producers to idle production or drop out of the business entirely, the industry is showing signs of life in the Corn Belt.

Six of the 11 ethanol plants in Illinois operate within a 50-mile radius of Peoria (as the crow flies), where agricultural industries are helping to offset the decline of traditional manufacturing.

According to specs from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the six plants, including a new facility that opened in Galva on May 14, have the combined capacity to produce 797 million gallons of ethanol each year – 42 percent of the state’s projected output of 1.9 billion gallons for 2009.

Illinois, which boasts the second highest corn yield in the nation – about 2.2 billion bushels annually – produces about 60 percent of the grain used for ethanol in the United States according to statistics from the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

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