House passes HEROES Act, bill includes aid for biofuel producers

By Erin Voegele | May 18, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives on May 15 voted 208 to 199 to pass a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package. The bill, known as the HEROES Act, would provide dedicated relief for biofuel 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 qualified 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.

The 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 welcomed passage of the bill and has launched a grassroots call to action encouraging ethanol advocates to urge Congress to work on direct aid until the next phase of stimulus legislation is enacted by both the House and U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

“After the first phases of stimulus legislation overlooked the catastrophic economic fallout the COVID-19 pandemic is having on renewable fuel producers, this is incredibly good news,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “There is still a long road ahead, so we will continue to work with our champions in Congress to ensure the phase four stimulus package includes this aid.”

“We thank House Speaker Pelosi and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson for acting swiftly to pass legislation providing direct aid for the biofuels industry and encourage the Senate to recognize the urgency of this situation and the need to move forward with similar legislation soon,” Jennings added.

Growth Energy applauded the bill and its inclusion of aid for biofuel producers. “The economic onslaught sparked by COVID-19 has taken a terrible toll on rural families, who face an uncertain future even as they work tirelessly to ensure an uninterrupted harvest of essential food, fiber, and biofuel,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The provision providing assistance to biofuels in the HEROES Act represents a welcome signal that lawmakers understand the urgent need to rebuild the strength of America’s agricultural supply chain after half the U.S. biofuel industry was forced offline.

“We are grateful to House leaders who have fought to ensure biofuel workers and rural communities are not left behind in this process, and we urge Congress to also provide relief for furloughed workers, farmers, and their families in future legislation to address COVID-19,” Skor continued.

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