Just as Congress is set to begin debating ethanol-related subsidies, Growth Energy, a lobbying group for the ethanol industry, is starting a $2.5 million, 6-month national television ad campaign aimed at defending ethanol, and portraying it a way to break the country's addiction to foreign oil. Grown Energy is headed by Jim Nussle, a former Republican congressman from Iowa and former member of George W. Bush's cabinet who is now president and CEO of a Virginia-based PR and lobbying firm called the Nussle Group. The corn/ethanol industry has been in decline for the last two years due to the economic downturn, which reduced the demand for both gasoline and ethanol. The ad campaign seeks to put a positive spin on ethanol, increase the market for ethanol, and counteract the idea that growing corn and other crops for fuel displaces food crops and causes higher food prices. Ethanol is blended into gasoline, but hasn't caught on because it's less widely available and can be more expensive to use on a per-mile basis. While it is cheaper than gas, ethanol contains a third less energy than gas, and gets 30 to 40 percent less mileage.
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