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Third group adds voice to chorus backing ethanol

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP)--A new ethanol advocacy group, Growth Energy, has been created to help educate people on how ethanol and agriculture can provide both fuel and feed, its supporters say.

"All of agriculture is struggling to define ourselves in that positive light," said Tom Buis, chief executive officer of Growth Energy. "We can't let vested interests and well-financed critics define us."

Buis served as an agricultural policy aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Growth Energy joins two other ethanol advocacy groups: the American Coalition for Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Association.

"Some subscribe to the theory (of) one group, one voice. Intuitively, I can see why on paper that makes sense," said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

But he added that the three groups complement each other.

Jeff Broin, chief executive officer of Sioux Falls-based ethanol maker Poet, said Growth Energy has a broader focus than the other groups.

"We consider ourselves more than a trade group. It's our goal to educate everyone on how agriculture and ethanol can feed and fuel the world," Broin said.

He said ethanol can be a worldwide industry helping the U.S. and other countries reduce their dependence on foreign oil, decrease pollution and create green jobs.

Earlier this month, Buis told a National Press Club audience that increased market demand is necessary to spur investment in next-generation ethanol technology based on cellulose feedstocks instead of corn.

"A lot of people miss the point: To get to cellulosic, you can't skip a step. We didn't go from making Model T's to Tauruses," Buis said.

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