COVID-19 Relief for Ethanol Industry Advances in Washington

 

Minnesota Corn Growers Association

 

With ethanol plants shutting down and curtailing production across the country, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association joined biofuel advocates to advocate for much-needed relief for the renewable fuel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy makers and national agencies have listened to the calls for assistance and have started to advance proposals for relief.

Direct assistance has been included in the latest round of legislation in response to the Coronavirus:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which included a provision that would provide much-needed assistance to Minnesota’s ethanol plants. The Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program, which would be established under the bill, would provide a 45-cent-per-gallon payment. More information on eligibility and funding can be found here. While the U.S. Senate is not likely to pass the HEROES Act, MCGA will emphasize provisions related to ethanol and agricultural assistance are included in future COVID-19-related legislation.
  • On the U.S. Senate side, Senators Chuck Grassley and Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation to provide direct assistance to biofuels producers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill would provide payments based on 75 percent of feedstock purchases during the first quarter.

MCGA supports direct assistance for ethanol plants to be included in the next round of a Coronavirus relief package. In addition to direct assistance, additional support for ethanol infrastructure has been established or introduced in legislation. These programs will be vital to continue to promote growth in an ethanol industry that has been deeply impacted by the pandemic:

  • The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) will be administered by USDA Rural Development and will provide up to $100 million in competitive grants to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels. Approximately $86 million of total funding will support higher blends of ethanol and remaining funding will be for biodiesel infrastructure. USDA Rural Development opened applications on May 15 and applications will be accepted  for 90 days.
  • U.S. House members introduced the Clean Fuels Deployment Act, which proposes to authorize $600 million over six years to award funding to local governments for infrastructure installation. This infrastructure funding would help cover the costs of installing, converting or retrofitting pump tanks, traditional and pipeline terminals, and other types of infrastructure to offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.