HEROES Act includes COVID-19 relief payments for biofuel plants

By Erin Voegele | May 12, 2020

A fourth COVID-19 stimulus package known as the HEROES Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 12. The bill includes dedicated relief for biofuels producers by establishing the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program.

The program provides a 45 cent per gallon payment for qualified fuel produced by eligible producers from Jan. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2020.

Qualified fuel includes any renewable fuel or advanced biofuel that qualifies as biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard, including corn ethanol. Eligible entities are defined as any domestic entity or facility that produced any qualified fuel during calendar year 2019.

Eligible facilities that were unable to produce any quantified throughout one or more calendar months from Jan. 1 through May 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic can receive payment equal to 45 cents multiplied by 50 percent of the number of gallons produced during the corresponding month or months of 2019. Th

e payments will be made by the USDA through the Commodity Credit Corp. The legislation also requires the USDA to submit a report to Congress within 180 days on the payments made under the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program, including the identity of each payment recipient and the amount paid to each payment recipient.

The American Coalition for Ethanol has spoken out to welcome language in the stimulus bill directing aid to biofuel producers. “This is the first time Congress has introduced a stimulus bill that would provide aid directly to biofuel producers and for that we are extremely appreciative,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. ACE members are grateful for this show of support from the Members of Congress who stepped up this week to call on congressional leadership to include emergency assistance for ethanol producers suffering the economic fallout of COVID-19, as well as all the Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have been working on financial aid. It’s important that securing aid for the biofuel sector continues to be a bipartisan goal. This is one important step in the process but until a bill is signed into law by the President that contains direct aid, we need to stay in constant contact with Members of Congress.”

The Renewable Fuels Association issued a statement applauding the bill. “The Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program represents a potential lifeline for the 350,000 men and women whose jobs depend on a healthy and vibrant ethanol industry,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “We greatly appreciate the efforts and leadership of Chairman Peterson, Congresswoman Bustos, and so many other renewable fuel supporters in the House. They understand that rural communities across the nation depend on the renewable fuels industry for job creation, economic vitality, and new market opportunities for farmers. They know we cannot afford to leave behind such a vital sector of the economy, and we thank them for standing up for low-carbon, homegrown renewable fuels. This program would lend a crucial helping hand and ensure that ethanol producers are able to participate in the economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Growth Energy also applauded the bill for providing relief to biofuel producers. “Over the course of this pandemic, half the biofuels industry was forced offline, sending shockwaves through the entire agricultural supply chain,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The HEROES Act offers a sorely needed beacon of hope for biofuel workers, our farm partners, and thousands of rural communities struggling to stay afloat.

Full legislative language on the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program can be found in Sec. 60305 of the HEROES Act, beginning on page 712 of the bill pdf, which can be downloaded from the House of Representatives website