Bloomberg says U.S. ethanol production reached its highest level since COVID-19 lockdowns brought the industry to a basic standstill. The ethanol industry reached production it hadn’t seen since June 2019. Gasoline demand on a four-week rolling average hit the highest point since 2007 for this time of year. The revival comes as corn is readily available at a relatively cheap price, setting the stage for better profit margins and a potential boost in overseas demand for U.S. supplies.
The fuel industry is waiting for overdue Biden administration proposals on mandates requiring refiners to blend fixed amounts of the biofuel into the nation’s fuel supply. “Weak blending proposals from the Environmental Protection Agency would pull the rug out from underneath the industry just as it is finally recovering to pre-COVID levels of production,” Renewable Fuels Association President Geoff Cooper says in an email to Bloomberg. The cost of complying with the blending requirement in the Renewable Fuel Standard has been a longtime conflict between biofuel makers and fossil-fuel refiners, who says the cost of compliance credits puts fuel supplies and refining jobs at risk.