American Coalition for Ethanol Chief Executive Officer Brian Jennings asked President Donald Trump to take "more urgent" action to help an ethanol industry on the ropes from the federal response to COVID-19.
In a letter to Trump on Monday, Jennings said, "Now is the time your leadership in support of America's farmers and the renewable fuels sector can help cut through bureaucratic red tape and respond to the mounting economic harm."
A sharp drop in fuel demand has led to a glut in ethanol supplies, forcing more than 70 plants to idle production so far.
"More than half of U.S. ethanol production capacity is already offline, high-skill jobs are being shed, livestock and food processing customers are facing supply disruptions, and our members' working capital is vanishing," Jennings wrote.
"Ethanol use could fall by more than 3 billion gallons in 2020, eliminating the market for at least a billion bushels of U.S. corn. As you did on April 21, when you directed the secretaries of energy and treasury to formulate a plan to provide funds to the oil and gas industry, we urge similar action for our sector."
During the past month ACE has written the heads of the EPA and USDA to urge the agencies to use authorities within their discretion to aid the industry.
"In our April 3 letter to Administrator Wheeler, we requested he use his existing statutory authority to ensure the 20.09 billion gallons of renewable fuel required by the Renewable Fuel Standard — and promised by EPA this year -- will be consumed," Jennings wrote.
"COVID-19 exposed a shortcoming in the agency's rulemaking, and failure to increase the RFS this year will result in a waiver of promised gallons."
Jennings said in the letter despite assurances from the agency that it would respond to ACE's request, "but the agency has not responded to our request. Every day EPA delays action is another day of economic catastrophe for renewable fuel producers.
"Our April 13 letter to Secretary (Sonny) Perdue requested he utilize funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to provide emergency assistance to ethanol producers. ACE supported congressional efforts to increase USDA funding for this effort, and many in Congress encouraged USDA to provide ethanol producers the aid. Unfortunately, USDA declined this much-needed assistance on April 17 citing a lack of funding.
"We believe a more urgent response is needed. Fortunately, the administration has tools that can be deployed with the necessary political will. A directive to your cabinet, similar to the one you have given in support of the oil and gas industry, would provide a much-needed boost to ethanol producers and rural America."
Read the letter here: https://ethanol.org/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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