Grassley: Biofuel industry is ‘very nervous’

By Erin Voegele | March 17, 2020

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, fielded questions on COVID-19 and the biofuels industry during a media call held March 16. In his comments, Grassley said the industry is “very nervous.” He also addressed the Tenth Circuit Court ruling on small refinery exemptions (SREs).

During the call, Grassley was asked about falling demand for liquid fuels due to COVID-19 and if he expects ethanol plants to close or slow production as a result of that falling demand. He was also asked about the potential for the government to offer financial assistance to the energy sector, including the ethanol industry.

In response, Grassley said he doesn’t think there are very many members of the Senate that are anxious to give any help to Big Oil. “But, if there is help to Big Oil, I would it expect it to include biofuels,” he said.

Grassley referenced a meeting he had with biofuel representatives last week. “They were very nervous,” he said, noting that meeting took place the same day the “stock market went way down.” He indicated that those ethanol producers did not at that time discuss the possibility of shutdowns, but again stressed that the producers were very nervous.

Grassley also said during the call that he doesn’t currently expect the COVID-19 issue to have any impact on the potential appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court’s Jan. 24 decision that struck down three SREs approved by the U.S. EPA. The deadline for filing an appeal is still set for March 24. Grassley said he’s been fighting the potential appeal, but noted he won’t know if those efforts have been successful until the March 24 deadline.