After quick congressional passage earlier this week, President Biden today signed legislation imposing an agreement to avert a major national rail strike that would have crippled America’s supply chain. Had a strike occurred, it would have seriously impacted the U.S. ethanol industry, the Renewable Fuels Association noted in thanking Congress and the President for their work.
“We thank President Biden and members of Congress who overwhelmingly supported keeping our nation’s freight moving at this difficult time,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “Shutting down the rails would have shut down our industry’s ability to provide lower-cost, low-carbon ethanol and other important coproducts like distillers grains to customers here at home and across the border to Canada and Mexico. More than 400,000 jobs across America are supported by the ethanol industry, and a long rail dispute would no doubt have put many of them at risk.”
RFA has been at the forefront of efforts to derail the strike threat, and earlier this week took part in a letter calling on Congress to move quickly to hold the railroads and their unions to the agreement. This followed letters in September and early November, as well as testimony in April to the Surface Transportation Board.
The majority of the ethanol produced in the United States—more than 70 percent—is transported via railway across the lower 48 states as well as into Canada and Mexico. In fact, over the last five years, U.S. railroads have transported an average of nearly 395,000 carloads of ethanol per year. In addition, roughly 25 percent of grain comes into ethanol plants by train, and an estimated 30 percent of outbound distillers grains, an important livestock feed produced at biorefineries, departs via rail.