Ethanol Industry Feeling the Strain of COVID-19

Many ethanol plants have cut their production over the last week, or they’ve entirely shut down as the coronavirus outbreak cuts into fuel consumption. Reuters says the drop in consumption at the pump has hit margins to refine the corn-based fuel hard. Renewable Fuels Association Chief Executive Geoff Cooper says he expects ethanol production to fall even further. He’s asking the Environmental Protection Agency to ease the strain on the industry by not granting any more of the small refinery waivers from the nation’s biofuels mandate. The coronavirus spread has disrupted business, travel, and daily life.

Governments around the world are urging people to stay indoors to help limit the potential spread of the outbreak, which has put a big damper on fuel demand. Margins to produce ethanol have dropped considerably, causing plants to begin looking at a combination of shutdowns and layoffs. An ethanol refiner from Claremont, Minnesota, says they’re doing everything they can to make sure they’ll weather and survive the economic storm, “but it’s definitely going to be ugly.”