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Governors' Biofuels Coalition
NEWS UPDATE July 27, 2020

Larry Johnson 1944-2020

Larry Johnson, Minnesota farmer known as the ‘Ethanol Answer Man,’ dies at 76

By Joel Rippel, Minneapolis Star Tribune  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

In the early 1980s, the nascent days for the ethanol industry, there were a multitude of questions about its use. They poured in from farmers and corn growers, motorists and politicians.
Larry Johnson, a farmer from Cologne, Minn., accepted the task of answering those questions. He eventually became known as the “Ethanol Answer Man.” “I think [the role] evolved gradually and naturally for him,” said his brother, Cliff Johnson of Chaska. “He didn’t just jump into it. He had been a farmer and corn grower for 20 to 30 years. And he got involved with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.” [ read more … ]

Top Story

Mnuchin: Virus Aid Package Soon, $1,200 Checks by August

By The Associated Press  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

“We’re prepared to move quickly,” Mnuchin said after he and Mark Meadows, the president’s acting chief of staff, spent several hours with GOP staff at the Capitol. He said the president would “absolutely” support the emerging Republican package. Mnuchin’s optimistic assessment came before Democrats weighed in publicly on the updated proposal, which remained only a starting point in negotiations with House and Senate leaders in the other party. He said he recently called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of shuttle negotiations next week on the broader deal. [ read more … ]

Relief Legislation

House Passes USDA Funding Bill, but White House Opposes it

By Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Political Correspondent  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

The House on Friday passed a minibus of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills including the Agriculture bill but the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration is opposed to the overall bill and cited some provisions in the Agriculture section. The vote was 224-189, with seven Democrats including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., joining the Republicans in voting against it. Seventeen Republicans did not vote. [ read more … ]


Indiana Ethanol Plants Running at 60%-65% Production

By Eric Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

The ethanol industry has taken a big hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Helena Jette, director of biofuels for Indiana Corn Marketing Council, says ethanol plants in Indiana are running at about 60%-65% production. “I think that a lot of the ethanol plants are making sure that they are going to ease back into the production and as those profit margins and as the traffic picks up. The thing right now that’s happening in the state of Indiana. [ read more … ]

Ethanol leaders see happy days in the future

By Lincoln Journal Star  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

“Fuel ethanol was a thing as early as early as automobiles. Henry Ford made his automobiles to run on ethanol and called it the fuel of the future,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. The journey from the past to the present is characterized by spurts, lulls and — most of all — government policy. Shaw is among those convinced that ethanol is here to stay in a big way. But there are caveats. [ read more … ]

Ethanol plants increase production as harvest nears

By Lincoln Journal Star  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

“We are very lucky this happened in the spring and not in the fall,” says Iowa State University Economist Chad Hart. “This was terrible for the industry and for farmers, but it was fantastic timing for corn farmers.” The point, Hart says, is that a shutdown like the one that hit the ethanol industry in the spring would be much more damaging if it had occurred during the fall harvest. Of course, that brings up the uncomfortable question of whether a second phase of the COVID-19 crisis could still shut down demand and production this fall. It’s a question Recker would rather not think about.
[ read more … ]

Applications being accepted for ethanol blender pumps in Nebraska

By Lincoln Journal Star  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy is taking applications for a new grant program designed to encourage the installation of ethanol blender pumps across Nebraska. Expanding motorists’ access to higher blends of ethanol will increase usage of advance biofuels and offer benefits to the state’s environment. Funding for the grants is made possible through a three-year, $3 million award from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. [ read more … ]


FDA says at least 77 hand sanitizer products may be toxic

By Hamza Shaban, Washington Post  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

Hand sanitizer demand has skyrocketed during the pandemic as Americans were urged to wash their hands often to guard against the coronavirus. That has sparked a rush of new brands onto the market. But since June, the Food and Drug Administration has identified at least 77 products — including two this week — that consumers should avoid. Many of the products’ labels say they contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but FDA tests show that they contain methanol, or wood alcohol.
[ read more … ]

Campaign 2020

Trump Tailors Exaggerations and False Claims to Election Battlegrounds

By Linda Qiu, New York Times  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

Mr. Trump has sought to curry favor with corn farmers in Iowa and the Midwest by claiming to have “kept our promise on ethanol” and falsely charging Democrats with wanting to “wipe out, totally, Iowa ethanol.” Mr. Trump did lift a summertime ban on the use of E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, drawing praise from corn growers. But his Environmental Protection Agency has also irked farmers by continuing to issue dozens of waivers to oil refineries that allow them to bypass legal requirements to blend in ethanol.
“The Trump administration’s ethanol policy has been defined by a failed attempt to placate both oil-and-gas and ethanol producers,” said Jeffrey T. Manuel, a historian at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and author of a coming book about ethanol politics. “The Trump administration held meetings last year to resolve the oil-versus-ethanol standoff, but they were inconclusive.” [ read more … ]

Draft Democratic platform pledges subsidy reforms, tough trade actions

By Philip Brasher, Agri-Pulse  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

The Democratic Party’s draft 2020 platform calls for directing more farm subsidies to small and medium-size farms while making the agriculture sector the first in the first world to eliminate net carbon emissions.  The platform includes a section on global trade that decries President Donald Trump’s “reckless” tariff war with China while pledging to protect American workers from unfair foreign competition and ensuring that Democrats first invest in “American competitiveness at home” before initiating new trade deals.  [ read more … ]


Tesla picks Texas site for second US vehicle assembly plant

By Tom Krisher, Associated Press  •    •  Posted July 26, 2020

Electric car maker Tesla Inc. has picked the Austin, Texas, area as the site for its largest auto assembly plant employing at least 5,000 workers. The new factory will build Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck pickup and will be a second U.S. manufacturing site for the Model Y small SUV, largely for distribution to the East Coast. [ read more … ]


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