USDA Announces Long-Delayed Biofuel Pandemic Aid, EPA, final RVOs


After months of delay, USDA finally announced the release of hundreds of millions in CARES Act pandemic aid for the biofuels industry, while the Environmental Protection Agency finalized even longer-delayed ethanol blending volumes.

USDA first announced 700-million dollars from the CARES Act last June. Now, a year later, the money for biofuel producers slammed by the pandemic is finally in the pipeline. Renewable Fuels Association head Geoff Cooper; “The ethanol industry was promised two years ago that there would be some assistance and some emergency relief provided to the industry to help offset some of the devastating losses that were experienced during COVID, and it’s just taken that long. It’s taken the better part of two years to get this program finally implemented at USDA, and it certainly is better late than never. The industry is very appreciative of this relief funding.”

Cooper says the biofuels industry is still recovering from losses well above the 700-million dollars, though the program was never intended to make the industry whole but will help it get “back on its feet.”

Meantime, EPA finalized the Renewable Volume Obligations, or RVOs, for the amount of biofuels refiners had to blend for 2020 through this year. Cooper; “Well, overall, we think it helps bring some order and certainty back to the RFS program. The 15-billion-gallon requirement is what Congress wrote into the law. So, we’re pleased to see EPA implementing that requirement for 2022. Glad to see them finally acting to restore that lost volume from 2016, as ordered by the courts. We’re not pleased, however, with EPA’s decision to retroactively revise the 2020 RVO that had been finalized years ago.”

Cooper says the RVO already has a self-correcting mechanism when fuel demand drops, and the EPA has consistently acknowledged it lacks authority to retroactively reopen RVOs already set.