As Americans did their part to minimize activities and slow the coronavirus’ spread, it's 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 is fighting for you
ACE wrote EPA and USDA in spring 2020 urging they use authorities within their discretion to quickly aid the ethanol industry. ACE has also sent the message to 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've also been working 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.” Congress gave USDA flexibility to provide relief for biofuel producers in the last stimulus package, but USDA declined to exercise it. That is why we must work with newly appointed USDA Secretary Vilsack to secure assistance for the industry in rapid fashion.
Congress was working on legislative language that would provide direct aid but they didn't make it in the final package. ACE hopes there is an opportunity for more definitive language in a potential fifth stimulus package. On October 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new version of its phase four stimulus bill the “Heroes Act,” originally passed in May, which would establish a new Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program authorizing USDA to make payments of 45 cents/gallon on production from January 1 to May 1 to help ethanol producers recover from the economic crisis. On May 19, Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation to provide economic relief through the Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Program to reimburse biofuel producers for a share of feedstocks they purchased and processed into renewable fuel during the first quarter of the year.KCOE ISOM - STIMULUS PROGRAMS IMPACTING THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY
PHASE THREE - CARES Act
Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a stimulus package injecting $2 trillion into the economy through loans, direct payments, expansion of unemployment benefits and tax relief. The President signed it into law on March 27. The CARES Act does not contain ethanol-specific provisions (nor does it include direct aid for any energy sector), but there are certain programs which benefit ACE members. Two centerpiece provisions are the Paycheck Protection Program and Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans described in the April 1 guide ACE put together linked below. Mid-April the inital round of funds were expended for both the PPP and EIDL but legislation was signed on April 24 by President Trump to replensh the programs. Read a recap and summary of stimulus opportunities for the ethanol industry provided by K·Coe Isom below.
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
CARES Act WEBINAR: April 8, ACE hosted a webinar, along with experts from accounting and consulting firm Christianson PLLP and agribusiness financial services provider CoBank, providing an assessment of the CARES Act from the outlook of the ethanol industry — what’s in it and how do I seek possible opportunities?
Visit ethanol.org/events/webinar/ to view a recording of the webinar.
Click here to access the presentation.
STIMULUS PROGRAMS AND THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY - VIDEO WITH K·COE ISOM
Hand Sanitizer Guidance and Updates
FREE OPEN FORUM: Manufacturing Alcohol to Combat a Public Health Emergency: Insights on Regulatory and Quality Requirements
Wednesday, January 27 and Thursday, January 28
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET
You can view the agenda and register for the forum here.
- On April 14, 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, 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 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
farm doc - Coronavirus & Ag - Webinars, Articles & More
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 has 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.
We've never experienced disruption like this. To help you get clarity during this unprecedented time, OPIS has 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)