This week, new legislation — Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020 — was introduced by Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, Angie Craig, D-Minnesota, and Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, to incentivize the deployment of fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends greater than 10 percent and biodiesel blends greater than 20 percent.
“The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the leadership of Reps. Finkenauer, Craig, Marshall and Bacon to help grow the market for higher blends of ethanol,” said NCGA President Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer. “Expanding infrastructure for higher blends will help to increase future demand for farmers and ensure biofuels will continue to be included in federal efforts to provide consumers with cleaner, affordable fuels.”
The bill authorizes $500 million over five years to help retailers offer higher ethanol blends, expand the geographic area selling ethanol blends, support biodiesel fuel markets, and accelerate the deployment of fueling infrastructure. The legislation will work alongside the Renewable Fuel Standard to accelerate growth and open new economic opportunities for American farmers and biofuel producers. A vital market for corn farmers, ethanol producers have idled nearly half of their production capacity due to the fallout from COVID-19. Spurring new demand for higher ethanol blends will be an important part of an economic recovery for the ethanol industry and farmers, and this infrastructure deployment will help support that growth.
This comes a week after Renewable Fuels Association released a new analysis projecting U.S. ethanol sales in 2020 could fall by more than $10 billion and the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product could drop by nearly one-third. The economic losses stem from a “pernicious combination of steep production cuts and sharply lower prices” in response to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and the resulting collapse in fuel consumption, according to the report.
RFA warned that these economic damages go far beyond the ethanol sector. America’s farmers will also be negatively impacted, as ethanol typically provides a market for two out of every five rows of corn and more than one-third of the annual sorghum crop.
Not only would this bill expand long-term economic opportunities for corn farmers and biofuels producers, but it would also allow consumers to have greater access to homegrown, cleaner-burning fuels.