House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently released $3 trillion Coronavirus relief package would provide cash payments to ethanol producers.

The bailout, thinly disguised as a “reimbursement program,” would send $0.45 in taxpayer money for each gallon of qualified fuel produced between January 1 and May 1, 2020. Qualified fuels include renewable fuel or advanced biofuels outlined in the Clean Air Act, including renewable fuel from corn starch feedstock. 

Pelosi’s legislation would also extend financial assistance to biofuel producers who failed to produce any quantities of qualifying fuel in this timeframe by paying them for 50 percent of the number of gallons produced in the corresponding month of 2019 at the same rate of $0.45 per gallon. Meaning, House Democrats are proposing to “reimburse” ethanol producers for fuel they never even produced during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here it is, straight from the bill’s text:

“If the Secretary determines that the eligible entity was unable to produce any qualified fuel throughout 1 or more calendar months during the applicable period due to the COVID–19 pandemic, $0.45 multiplied by 50 percent of the number of gallons produced by the eligible entity in the corresponding month.”

This taxpayer handout to the politically favored ethanol industry was one of few energy provisions included in the House Democrats’ relief package. Other energy provisions were primarily directed towards providing financial assistance to consumers unable to pay their utility bills.