As Americans did their part to minimize activities and slow the coronavirus’ spread, it created yet another headwind for ACE members already harmed by trade wars and EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions under the RFS. ACE has been actively pursuing actions that can and have been deployed both in the near- and long-term to mitigate the staggering and unprecedented impact coronavirus has had on ethanol demand. Whether that be new policies to spur the use of low carbon fuels or additional emergency authorities the Administration or Congress could implement, ACE has been helping provide decisionmakers in the nation’s capital with economic stimulus recommendations. We've compiled other updates and resources pertaining to COVID-19 below.
Please visit the CDC website to learn more about COVID-19, FAQ and the latest CDC guidance and protocols.
COVID-19 took a direct hit on the industry - be assured ACE will always fight for you
ACE wrote EPA and USDA in spring 2020 urging they use authorities within their discretion to quickly aid the ethanol industry. ACE also sent the message to former president Trump calling on a more urgent response and requesting he use his leadership in support of America's farmers and the renewable fuels sector to help cut through bureaucratic red tape and respond to the mounting harm. In our letter, we asked that he provide a directive to his Cabinet, similar to the one he gave in support of the oil and gas industry. You can access the letter here. We also worked with our champions in Congress to enhance our messages to the Administration and include direct aid to the ethanol industry in upcoming stimulus packages.
Meanwhile, critics of the RFS have tried to use COVID-19 as an excuse for EPA to forget that the law requires a certain level of biofuel blending each year. We continued to remind EPA and the White House that the RFS is the law of the land and cannot be waived for something like the coronavirus, and in fact, we called on EPA to ensure statutory levels are met. We need the Administration to uphold the RFS and not give in to these opportunistic, political requests.
STIMULUS PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY
PHASE FOUR STIMULUS PACKAGE
As 2020 came to a close, Congress finally coalesced behind another round of stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic, totaling approximately $900 billion in spending across a variety of sectors. The package includes $11.2 billion in relief to be distributed by the Office of the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), giving newly appointed Tom Vilsack discretion to provide support to biofuel producers. Specifically, the legislation states the Secretary “may make payments to producers of advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, conventional biofuel, or renewable fuels with market losses due to COVID-19.” ACE continued to work through the first half of 2021 with USDA Secretary Vilsack to secure direct assistance for the industry in rapid fashion.
On March 24, 2021 USDA Secretary Vilsack announced USDA is establishing new programs to bring financial assistance to those who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. The USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initative dedicates $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals where there is unspent pandemic relief for a variety of producers, including biofuels. On June 15, 2021, USDA announced it was earmarking $700 million for biofuel producers planned for implementation within 60 days.KCOE ISOM - STIMULUS PROGRAMS IMPACTING THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY - 1.20.21
PHASE THREE - CARES Act
K·COE ISOM SUMMARY OF STIMULUS PROGRAMS, RESOURCES - CLICK HERE
GUIDE FOR ACE MEMBERS - CLICK HERE
CORONOAVIRUS EMERGENCY LOANS - SMALL BUSINESS GUIDE & CHECKLIST - CLICK HERE
Visit ethanol.org/events/webinar/ to view a recording of the CARES Act webinar ACE hosted with Christianson PLLP and CoBank on April 8, 2020.
Click here to access the presentation.
STIMULUS PROGRAMS AND THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY - VIDEO WITH K·COE ISOM
Hand Sanitizer Guidance and Updates
- On April 14, 2020 due to the shortages of active ingredients used in the surface disinfectants effective in combatting COVID-19, EPA announced its temporarily allowing registrants to notify EPA of certain formulation and manufacturing facility changes and immediately release the product for sale without waiting for EPA approval. This allows List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (List N) with registered sources of active ingredients to be manufactured in those establishments without prior EPA approval. The temporary amendment includes the procedure for submission of notifications for registrants and can be found on the EPA website. EPA also added nine additional chemicals to its list of commodity inert ingredients. This action is intended to help address supply chain issues for EPA-registered disinfectants and other pesticides by allowing manufacturers of already-registered EPA products to change the source of the supplier of the listed inert ingredients.
- The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau provided a waiver to ethanol producers authorizing them to make ethanol-based hand sanitizer to address increased demand. Click here to read more about the guidance.
- On March 27, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed its guidelines for the types of alcohol that may be used to make hand sanitizer. Then, on April 15, FDA essentially reversed its course stating that fuel or technical grade ethanol should only be used if it meets food (or pharmaceutical) grade standards and has been screened for certain impurities. ACE sent a letter on April 21, 2020 urging FDA reconsider the modified guidance which has "inflicted regulatory whiplash" on many of these plants, some of whom are donating this product as a service to their communities. CLICK HERE to read the letter. FDA again revised its guidance on June 1 that further clarifies the manufacturing and compounding of certain alcohol-based hand-sanitizer products to prevent harmful levels of impurities from making their way into sanitizers.
- FDA invites companies wishing to use or supply fuel or technical grade ethanol that does not meet food-grade requirements to submit specified data to FDA for its review at COVID-19-Hand-Sanitizer@fda.hhs.gov with "Ethanol Data" in the subject line.
- For more information, visit the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) “A Hand Sanitizer Resource.” Page 16, Table 2 describes Acceptance Criteria that lists levels of impurities for alcohol, and page 21 describes impurities for isopropyl alcohol.
- FDA’s guidances with the temporary policies on making hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 emergency can be found on FDA's webpage at https://www.fda.gov/drugs/coronavirus-covid-19-drugs/hand-sanitizers-covid-19.
Greenhouse Gas Calculations for Efficient Producers Also Producing Hand Sanitizer
EPA has issued clarifying guidance regarding greenhouse gas calculations for ethanol producers registered for an Efficient Producer Pathway who are also producing hand sanitizer.
- Greenhouse Gas Calculations for Efficient Producers Also Producing Hand Sanitizer (PDF)
- If you have further questions please use this contact form
Company webinar series, resources & more
K·Coe Isom - Virtual Town Hall + Resource & Update Center
Fluid Quip Technologies Weekly Listen/Call-in Live Webinar Series
USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses, and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for regular announcements and information and visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus for a list of Frequently Asked Questions and USDA actions to respond to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Federal Rural Reousrce Guide - resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.
OSHA GUIDANCE ON PREPARING WORKPLACES FOR COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed this COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so. This guidance is intended for planning purposes. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.
CLICK HERE FOR THE GUIDANCE DOCUMENT.
NCGA assembled a Task Force to provide recommendations on recovery efforts and facilitate coordination along the value chain. The Task Force compiles more information, coordinates with the industry and provides recommendations to mitigate the economic fallout. Corn growers can follow the work of the Task Force by subscribing to NCGA’s News of the Day e-newsletter or following NCGA on twitter. Farmers are also encouraged to share what they’re seeing in their local regions and any concerns of which they’d like the Task Force to be aware through CoronavirusInput@NCGA.com.
NCGA is passing along best practices as we move through the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Preparations for Spring planting means activity levels are increasing on the farm for things like field preparation and on-farm deliveries. Limiting interactions and exposure is a good idea to limit exposure and risk related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). It is critical to practice biosecurity for your family, your employees, the public, and animals. CLICK HERE for more steps on the farm to manage COVID-19.
The COVID-19 outbreak has shaken the entire fuel supply chain and pushed market fundamentals to their limits.
OPIS put together the Emergency Fuel Market Update to help you understand where prices are each week and compare them to values a week ago, a month ago and a year ago. If you'd like to continue receiving this free weekly update, click here to subscribe.
Other Relevant Information/Guidelines
- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency identified workers at "fuel ethanol facilities" as essential critical infrastructure workers. Read the full guidance here.
- The Iowa Dept. of Public Health has online resources, including the Iowa COVID-19 Vaccine Web Page, Infectious Disease Advisory Council, Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
- How to Maintain a Healthy Workplace Post-COVID-19