Klobuchar, Smith Announce Major Federal Funding to Support Biofuel Producers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN), both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded major federal funding to support biofuel producers in Minnesota through a program created by bipartisan legislation led by Klobuchar. 

The funding will provide economic support to lower costs and offset market losses through the Biofuel Producer Relief Payments program. This program, created in December 2020, is based on the Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act, Klobuchar’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to provide relief to biofuel and renewable fuel producers that suffered market losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Renewable fuel processing plants employ thousands of people in rural areas, purchase billions of bushels of commodities from farmers, and provide stability in our agricultural supply chain,” said Klobuchar. “I fought for this funding to ensure our farmers and biofuel processors have the support they need to get through the economic uncertainties resulting from the pandemic.”

“Minnesota biofuel producers were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Smith. “This relief will help them get back on their feet and lower costs after more than two years of serious challenges. To keep our economy strong, it’s critical our renewable fuel producers have the resources they need to bounce back from pandemic related losses. I’ll keep working to direct much-needed federal relief to Minnesota communities so that we can rebuild a stronger, more resilient economy.”

Specifically, USDA Rural Development will provide funding to the following producers:

  • $14.2 million for Granite Halls Community Ethanol Plant in Granite Halls;
  • $4 million for Highwater Ethanol in Lamberton; 
  • $3.3 million for Heartland Corn Products in Winthrop;
  • $3 million for Chippewa Valley Ethanol Coop in Benson; 
  • $2.7 million for Minnesota Soybean Processors in Brewster; and 
  • $2.4 million for Denco II in Morris;
  • $8 million for Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont; and
  • $29 thousand for Ever Cat Fuels in Anoka.

Biofuel processors Poet, ADM, and Gevo that operate in multiple states, including facilities in Minnesota, also received over $102 million through the program.

Klobuchar has long been a strong advocate for investing in renewable fuel infrastructure, increasing American biofuel production, and upholding the Clean Air Act’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In April, Klobuchar led a bipartisan group of colleagues, including Smith, in pushing the Biden administration to expand American biofuel availability. 

In March, she introduced the Home Front Energy Independence Act with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), bipartisan legislation to expand the availability and production of American biofuel, following President Biden’s ban on importing Russian oil.

In February, she and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan letter, signed by Smith,  urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prioritize the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by maintaining the blending requirements for 2022; denying all pending Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs); eliminating proposed retroactive cuts to the renewable volume obligations (RVOs); and setting 2021 RFS volumes at the statutory levels.

Klobuchar and Grassley also introduced bipartisan legislation in December to provide certainty to biofuel producers by preventing the EPA from retroactively reducing RVO levels once finalized.

Additionally, last July, Klobuchar and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation, co-sponsored by Smith, to permit the year-round sale of E15. 

In June of 2021, Klobuchar introduced a package of bipartisan bills to expand the availability of low-carbon renewable fuels, incentivize the use of higher blends of biofuels, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Co-led by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the Biofuel Infrastructure and Agricultural Product Market Expansion Act would expand the availability of low-carbon renewable fuels in the marketplace, resulting in cleaner air, lower fuel process, and rural economic vitality. 

Last June, Klobuchar led a letter with 15 colleagues, including Smith, to the EPA and National Economic Council (NEC) expressing concern about reports that the Biden administration was considering options to exempt oil refiners from their obligations under the RFS.

Sen. Smith has long fought for a strong RFS, both in Washington and during her time as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota. During the Trump Administration she helped lead the fight against abusive refinery waivers that limited the amounts of renewable fuels blended into the nation’s gasoline supply.  Senator Smith is recognized as a leader on the push to get strong climate legislation through Congress during the Biden Administration, legislation that would provide the stability of 10 years of support for the biofuel industry and help expand the use of biofuels into new parts of the transportation sector.