May 13, 2020
O. Kay Henderson
The $3 trillion economic recovery plan introduced in the U.S. House includes $2.25 billion for the biofuels industry. Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat from Dubuque, is part of the House Biofuels Caucus that lobbied for the assistance.
“This is obviously a meaningful step towards protecting our producers and providing relief to this vital sector of our economy that means so much to our state, to our agricultural community, also to rural Iowa and our cities,” Finkenauer says.
Under the plan, ethanol and biodiesel plants would get payments based on the gallons each produce.
“At a rate of 45 cents per gallon for fuel produced between January and May of this year,” Finkenauer says, “and then for plants forced to shut down, the bill provides 22.5 cents per gallon on the amount produced during the same period last year in 2019.”
There are eight biofuels plants in Finkenauer’s congressional district which covers the northeast quarter of Iowa.
“And I know they are struggling,” Finkenauer says. “Just last month the ADM ethanol production plant in Cedar Rapids shut down, furloughing 90 workers.”
Growth Energy, a trade group for the industry, projects biofuels production has been cut in half due to the pandemic and the Trump Administration waivers for oil refineries, so they don’t have to blend ethanol into gasoline. Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, is also a member of the House Biofuels Caucus. She says the downturn in the biofuels industry is having a devastating economic impact, leading to rural job losses and falling corn prices.