To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for the ethanol industry would be a severe understatement.
A recent analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association shows that the industry has already suffered $3.4 billion in lost revenue this year with the possibility of losing up to $9 billion next year.
Just to reiterate, this is an industry that annually supports some 350,000 jobs nationwide and contributed $43 billion to GDP last year.
But somehow, every time the Senate comes up with a coronavirus relief package, the ethanol industry gets passed over.
Their latest relief package includes $20 billion allocated for agriculture which could theoretically be used to help ethanol producers. But considering what the industry has been put through in the last few years, you’ll forgive us if we’re a bit skeptical that this would actually happen.
Even more absurd is the fact that the Senate is refusing to include a proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar to provide direct financial aid to ethanol producers through the Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act of 2020.
The problems the renewable ethanol industry have been saddled with require immediate financial aid. The problems are real, relevant and big.
Despite their track record on inaction, the Senate can still get this right - provide direct financial aid, now, to the ethanol industry so it can fulfill the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The industry has a proven track record of building up rural communities, stimulating the economy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.
Surely, this is an industry worth helping?
Then again, considering how tone-deaf some members of the senate seem to the plight of Americans suffering from a recession, why should we expect anything different?
On a personal note, we want to express our condolences to Larry Johnson’s family.
Larry was known as the “ethanol man.” But when I met him in 2011, and throughout the intervening years, I came to know Larry as the renewable fuel visionary. He also saw a pathway to advanced biofuels and understood the role it could play in aggressively cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. When we get the costs and benefits properly adjusted, that vision will again take off.
We will miss Larry’s foresight in all things ethanol.