On Friday, the House Biofuels Caucus sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to “take immediate action to ensure plants can retain skilled workers and continue production when market conditions improve.” This letter joins a similar letter which came from Senate Lawmakers earlier in the week. The letter was signed by all four Iowa Congressional Members; Abby Fikenauer (D-1st), Dave Loebsack (D-2nd), Cindy Axne (D-3rd), and Steve King (R-4th).
The House Biofuels Caucus letter comes at a turbulent time for the biofuels industry. It calls on the USDA to move immediately to shore up this floundering industry:
“Demand for fuel is declining as states implement stay-at-home orders and discourage travel. This sudden shift in demand is worsening market conditions to the point ethanol plants are halting production. The biofuels industry is a vital market for the commodities our farmers produce, and USDA must take immediate action to ensure plants can retain skilled workers and continue production when market conditions improve.”
These Congressional letters come on the heels of another push to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which forces the EPA to end illegal refinery exemptions. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper says there is no reason, even with the pandemic, that EPA should continue to drag its feet.
Cooper again called on the “need for certainty” that farmers and biofuels supporters need.
Cooper says even though this should be a simple decision, the RFA and others won’t be holding their breath and waiting on EPA to do the right thing.
Representative Cindy Axne reminded Iowans of the impacts of a floundering biofuels industry on the state. In a press release on Friday, she said, “Two in every five bushels of corn produced by Iowa farmers are sold to ethanol plants. Biodiesel producers purchase over eight billion pounds of soybean oil a year. With biofuel plants idling and reducing production, Iowa corn and soybean growers are losing significant markets.”
You can read the full letter here.