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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE May 5, 2020

Top Story

Pandemic crisis offers glimpse into oil industry’s future

By David Sheppard, Financial Times  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

John Browne, the former chief executive of BP, has witnessed first hand the ups and downs of the oil industry for more than five decades. But unlike the usual market cycles of boom and bust he believes the coronavirus-linked price crash will serve as a warning for the industry of what is to come. “We’re seeing just how fragile the world is in this pandemic, and awareness of fragility is a very important thing in shaping human behaviour,” Lord Browne says. “People who have spent months worrying about their lungs are more likely to want clean air.” [ read more … ]

Markets

Biofuel Giant Sees More Driving Than Before in Post-Pandemic Era

By Isis Almeida, Bloomberg  •    •  Posted May 5, 2020

For now, coronavirus stay-at-home measures are keeping cars off the road, slashing demand for biofuels. But as economies reopen and people settle into post-pandemic life, they will likely avoid mass transportation and drive more, according to Todd Becker, chief executive officer of the Omaha-based company. That will help the beleaguered industry, which was already struggling with negative margins even before the virus hit. Add to that an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia that sent crude prices crumbling, and plants across the nation idled or slowed production rates. [ read more … ]

USDA Announces Food Purchase Program and Biofuel Infrastructure Grants

By Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Reporter  •    •  Posted May 5, 2020

The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program consists of up to $100 million in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives to eligible entities for activities designed to expand the sales and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. Grants for up to 50% of total eligible project costs, but not more than $5 million, are available to vehicle fueling facilities, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities. [ read more … ]

Energy transition to be shaped by world response to COVID-19

By Allison GoodTaylor Kuykendall and Dan Testa, S&P Global  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may accelerate a shift from fossil fuel spending to investments in renewable energy, but the pace of that transition depends heavily on how governments direct economic recovery spending, and whether the consumer behavior changes induced by the outbreak become permanent. [ read more … ]

Why ethanol woes and COVID-19 won’t stop a record-breaking year for one crop

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

AccuWeather continues to predict a record-setting year for corn production with an expected 15.664 billion bushels based on 95 million acres planted. That’s a 12.5 percent increase over last year’s total of 13.692 and would top the U.S. record for annual corn production of 15.15 billion bushels set in 2016.  Those favorable corn production estimates are despite ethanol production plummeting drastically – the number of barrels produced per day fell 50 percent from Feb. 28 to April 24. Roughly 40 percent of corn grown is used for ethanol.  [ read more … ]

Pandemic

Dropping oil prices damaging Kansas ethanol industry

By The Associated Press  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

A sharp drop in gas prices around the world is challenging the ethanol industry in Kansas, with two plants currently idle and nine having decreased production by at least 40%. Gas prices were declining before the coronavirus outbreak, but they have dropped by more than 50% since the pandemic began. Prices for ethanol, which makes up 10% of much of the fuel in the U.S., also plunged, The Hutchinson News reported. [ read more … ]

Gov. Burgum directs North Dakota agencies to identify cuts

By Associated Press  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum directed state agencies Friday to identify substantial spending cuts and efficiencies to help deal with a state economy that’s been battered as officials tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Burgum said agencies must pare spending 5% percent to 15% when they prepare their plans for the next two-year budget. The state’s larger agencies are responsible for the bigger cuts, he said. The directive excludes cuts to public schools and Medicaid programs. [ read more … ]

Policy & Politics

Poll– More than half of voters support renewable bailout

BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

The Morning Consult poll  shows that support for the renewable industry is higher than that for a bailout of the oil and gas industry, but it showed support for the latter also went unchanged between the two polls, even as oil prices dipped below zero last month. [ read more … ]

Fossil fuel firms linked to Trump get millions in coronavirus small business aid

By Emily Holden, The Guardian  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

US fossil fuel companies have taken at least $50m in taxpayer money they probably won’t have to pay back, according to a review of coronavirus aid meant for struggling small businesses by the investigative research group Documented and the Guardian. A total of $28m is going to three coal mining companies, all with ties to Trump officials, bolstering a dying American industry and a fuel that scientists insist world leaders must shift away from to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. [ read more … ]

Midwest Low-Carbon Biofuels Standard Pitched

By Matt Thompson, Ethanol Produce Magazine  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

It just makes sense to keep more ethanol in the Midwest, says Brendan Jordan, vice president of transportation and fuels for the Great Plains Institute. Jordan emphasizes that while California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard has benefited Midwestern ethanol producers who are able to transport their product to the state, a Midwestern version of the LCFS would keep that fuel—and its economic impacts—closer to where it’s produced. [ read more … ]

Ethanol Board Administrator Responds To Attacks On The RFS

By WNAX  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

Several groups including the American Energy Alliance, Citizens Against Government Waste and the Heartland Institute have sent a letter to President Trump calling for a change or waiving of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Roger Berry says their attacks on the RFS are unfounded and it should be noted that many of those groups were founded by the petroleum industry. He says recent studies show the coronavirus can be carried by air pollution and biofuels help battle that problem. [ read more … ]

Commentary

How Trump’s EPA Is Making Covid-19 More Deadly

By Michael Bloomberg and Gina McCarthy, Bloomberg  •    •  Posted May 4, 2020

Scientists are warning us that air pollution makes Covid-19, which strikes at the lungs, more deadly. Nonetheless, in the space of about a month, the president has repeatedly undermined rules limiting air pollution. Tens of thousands of Americans will die as a result. A recent Harvard study shows that even a tiny increase in fine particulate matter air pollution — commonly known as “soot” — increases death rates from Covid-19. Hit the hardest are low-income communities and people of color, who are disproportionately exposed to pollution sources, such as highways and refineries. [ read more … ]

Note: News clips provided do not necessarily reflect the views of coalition or its member governors.