The Renewable Fuels Association today welcomed the inclusion of the “Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program” in the HEROES Act unveiled today by House Democrats. RFA said the program would provide vital assistance and emergency relief to the nation’s struggling ethanol industry, which has seen its markets devastated by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. RFA thanks Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN-07), and countless other renewable fuel champions in the House for ensuring relief for the biofuels industry was included in the package.
Inclusion of the relief program in the HEROES Act comes after Reps. Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Angie Craig (MN-02), led a letter to House leadership yesterday, warning that a struggling biofuel industry could have cascading effects on the entire agriculture sector. The letter was also signed by Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Ron Kind (WI-03), Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Kendra Horn (OK-05).
In addition, RFA and other farm and biofuel groups sent a similar letter to House and Senate leadership yesterday.
“The Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program represents a potential lifeline for the 350,000 men and women whose jobs depend on a healthy and vibrant ethanol industry,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “We greatly appreciate the efforts and leadership of Chairman Peterson, Congresswoman Bustos, and so many other renewable fuel supporters in the House. They understand that rural communities across the nation depend on the renewable fuels industry for job creation, economic vitality, and new market opportunities for farmers. They know we cannot afford to leave behind such a vital sector of the economy, and we thank them for standing up for low-carbon, homegrown renewable fuels. This program would lend a crucial helping hand and ensure that ethanol producers are able to participate in the economic recovery from COVID-19.”
For qualifying renewable fuel produced between January 1 and May 1, 2020, the program would provide assistance of 45 cents per gallon.
Cooper noted that the ethanol industry is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its 40-year history, with roughly half of the industry’s capacity offline today. Nearly 70 ethanol plants are completely idled and another 80 facilities are operating well below normal output rates. “When an ethanol plant shuts down or reduces production, it destabilizes the entire rural economy,” Cooper said. “Jobs are lost, farm commodity demand and prices plummet, supplies of vital co-products like distillers grains and captured CO2 evaporate, and the nation’s drivers are denied lower-cost, cleaner-burning fuel options at the pump.”
RFA is urging swift passage of the HEROES Act and looks forward to the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program becoming law.