Lawmakers Seek Additional Support for Biofuels Industry

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, along with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and eight of their Senate colleagues, sent a letter March 8 to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, urging USDA to assist biofuel producers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, the senators called on the Department of Agriculture to make biofuels producers eligible for existing CCC funding. “We have been advocating for targeted relief for the biofuels industry since last spring when we were first made aware of the demand collapse for ethanol and other renewable fuels due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators wrote.

The letter is also signed by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

Meanwhile, the House Biofuels Caucus introduced two new pieces of legislation in March to increase access to biofuels. One bill, the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, seeks to expand access to higher blends of biofuels. Another, called the Adopt GREET Act, would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel, ensuring that federal regulators consider how biofuels lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act would authorize $500 million over five years for infrastructure grants for fuel retailers and direct the EPA administrator to finalize a proposed rule to repeal E15 labeling requirements that warn drivers about 15% ethanol fuel’s potential impact on cars, which could deter drivers from using E15.

The Adopt GREET Act would require the EPA to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel by requiring the EPA to adopt the Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model for both fuels. EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made.

Both pieces of legislation are supported by the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association and the American Coalition for Ethanol.