Grassley: Ernst to press Trump on ethanol aid
The Republican coronavirus aid proposal appears to give Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue the authority to provide aid to ethanol plants, but the administration has not committed to provide it. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is pressing the administration for the commitment, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday.
On a call to rural reporters, Grassley said he had talked to Vice President Mike Pence and Perdue about the ethanol issue, but added, “I know that Sen. Ernst is working very hard on this. It is my understanding she is going to get to the president on this.”
Ernst is running for re-election in a close race.
Grassley added, “I have made very clear from my position that we are talking about equity” with the oil industry, which has gotten help through government purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Grassley noted that he had tried to get an ethanol provision in previous coronavirus aid packages but failed.
Grassley said he and his colleagues want $3 billion for ethanol plants whose revenues have gone down because Americans have been driving less and that they “haven’t gotten a no from anybody.”
But Grassley said he is not sure “how far” the additional $20 billion in the Senate package will go since it is also supposed to take care of making payments to livestock producers who have had to euthanize animals.
After Senate Republicans released their bill that would give Perdue wide leverage to spend $20 billion in aid to help producers, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said, “This is a good first step towards healing the damage wrought by COVID-19, but falls short of providing the necessary clarity that would have been provided in” the bill proposed by Sens. Ernst, Grassley and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
“The next critical step in a final agreement between House and Senate is to provide additional certainty around the nature of biofuel industry relief to ensure our producers have access to this much needed assistance,” Skor continued. “Our fight is far from over, especially with the number of retroactive refinery exemption applications continuing to rise and COVID-19 depressing trade to our key ethanol markets abroad.
“It’s encouraging to know that we have House and Senate leaders in our corner who understand that protecting America’s biofuel workforce now is vital to rebuilding our nation’s agricultural supply chain and markets for American farmers.”
On Tuesday, Ernst wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to ask him to honor what she considers the administration’s commitments on E15 labeling and infrastructure barriers.
“There’s no excuse for regulators to drag their feet on E15, especially at time when new markets for biofuels could provide an economic lifeline for communities hammered by COVID-19 and years of EPA demand destruction,” Skor said as she released Ernst’s letter. “The president made a commitment to Sen. Ernst and her colleagues, and we applaud her for holding the EPA accountable on that promise.”