The ethanol industry in the U.S. has gotten billions in farm subsidies and has been praised by politicians of both major parties, but the recent bad press has not only led to the end of 30 years of corn subsidies to make the biofuel, but also for the entire industry to now be "one of the most hated industries in the world."
That's how Todd Becker, president and CEO of Green Plains Renewable Energy, phrased it to CNBC recently. It can be easy to see why, since the ethanol has been very publicly blamed for affecting gas prices and hurting some engines. Green Plains Renewable Energy is feeling the criticism directly. Dealing with high corn prices, the company's stock recently hit a 52-week low, CNBC reports.
Even against this backdrop, Becker said he thinks ethanol will remain important in the U.S., since the biofuel's high octane rating can help bump up the the "84 octane subgrade gasoline" that refiners are currently making from petroleum, before blending it with 113-octane ethanol. "If you want to replace this octane, you're going to have to buy something much more expensive than ethanol today, and it's not in big supply," he said.