(UPI)--Ethanol production in the United States reached record levels last year, in concert with increased demand, the Renewable Fuels Association reported Jan. 28.

Production in 2001 climbed to 1.77 billion gallons, up 10% from the year before and 20% above 1999's mark of 1.47 billion gallons.

"The ethanol industry continues its impressive production expansion," RFA President Bob Dinneen said, in a statement.

"Ethanol demand was up throughout the country in 2001, led by California's markedly increased demand for ethanol, increased ethanol blending in areas with tight refining capacity, and heightened consumer demand for domestic fuels following Sept. 11," Dinneen added.

The bullish times are expected to continue, Dinneen said, noting that construction on 20 new ethanol production plants began last year.

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