USDA turning ethanol luck around

Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 6:47 PM CST
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North Dakota's ethanol industry will be receiving some much-needed help.

The USDA recently unveiled an initiative aimed at renewable fuels, which includes $100 million in grants for bio-fuel infrastructure.

At times, the ethanol industry was receiving mixed messages. Is the White House with or against them? One agency is trying to prioritize ethanol, and another fighting litigation for years. The courts recently sided with producers, but they continue to struggle.

As some ethanol plants are closing, around the country, the USDA is trying to turn their luck around. Calling for ethanol blends of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30% by 2050.

"Having that come from Secretary Purdue was great, because it shows the administrations recognition of the impact the ethanol industry has on the ag economy,” ND Ethanol Council’s Deana Wiese said.

And it comes at a time of healing between the industry and the administration. Ethanol producers have been fighting years' worth of lawsuits over production waivers, which allow smaller companies to not make ethanol.

"Unfortunately, it did take some lawsuits. And remember, we're finally getting results from 2016 labors. So if you look back, that's how detrimental they've been to us because it takes so long to actually prove it in court,” said Ryan Thorpe, Theraldson Ethanol.

Some plants have been running in the negative for the past few weeks. So while the long-term might be positive, many will have to fight to make it through the short term.

Both chambers of the Minnesota State Legislature recently introduced bills that would require all gas stations in the state to offer E-15, with some exceptions. While there's still a while to go before those reach Gov. Walz's desk, it's making progress through committees.