After drop in fuel prices, ethanol advocates regroup in St. Louis

St. Louis – Following a difficult year for the ethanol industry, advocates for the corn-based fuel are gathering in St. Louis for a two-day meeting.

Interest in ethanol rises when gas prices surge. But when prices at the pump dropped last year, so did interest in the biofuel.

In addition, tightening credit markets put some ethanol producers out of business or severely damaged their stock value.

Michelle Kautz with the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition says the future is brighter

"The Detroit Three as we call them now, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, have all promised to produce at least half their line as flexible fuel by the year 2012," Kautz said.

Industry officials hope that cellulosic ethanol will help to boost the manufacture and sales of flex fuel vehicles. Cellulosic ethanol is made from switchgrass, wheat straw, wood chips and agriculture waste, rather than corn kernels.