Ethanol Industry Waiting on the Railroad - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Ethanol Industry Waiting on the Railroad


Ethanol producers across the nation say clogged rail lines and other shipping problems have forced them to reduce production and are contributing to higher prices.
    The Renewable Fuels Association President says railroads should take the blame for ethanol prices jumping more than $1 a gallon between early February and late March.
Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin takes you to Underwood to explain.

(Jeff Zueger / Blue Flint Ethanol) "The ethanol industry has been impacted similar to other industries."
A cold winter has slowed down progress on the rail line.
That slow down on the tracks has also slowed down the number of ethanol gallons being produced across the nation.
(Jeff Zueger / Blue Flint Ethanol) "And rail was dramatically slowed down by the extreme weather conditions combined with a couple other key drivers and it led to a lot of our product not getting to the markets that it need to get to. That had production down. A lot of facilities in the Midwest were running at reduced rates and facilities even having to shut down."
(Sarah Gustin / "Zueger says while many plants across the nation have had to reduce their production, this isn't an ethanol industry problem, it's a hold up on the railine." 
(Jeff Zueger / Blue Flint Ethanol) "Certainly this winter this area was calling for all the cars it could get. Cars are trading at a very high premium. there is essentially no cars available. No tank cars available." 
Jeff Zueger is the General Manager of Blue Flint Ethanol in Underwood.
Zueger says while the operations have slowed across much of the Midwest, business has been as usual here in Underwood--but not without a few adjustments.
(Jeff Zueger / Blue Flint Ethanol) "Partnering with our railroad service provider. Working on other logistical avenues, moving product by truck that normally would have gone by rail. Bringing on additional rail cars. We have been able to run the facility, move the product to market, but with a slower rate and additional car requirements that you would normally need." 
Zueger says most ethanol is moved by private cars.
He says the latest report shows both rail car turnaround and ethanol production is finally showing improvement.

The Surface Transportation Board is a regulatory body that oversees the rail industry.
The board will hold a hearing April 10 to discuss the recent rail challenges and find ways to improve service.


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