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Iowa biofuel makers battle back

Billions of gallons
U.S. Ethanol production dropped sharply in 2020 during the pandemic, but the production had already been reduced in 2019 by a surge of small refinery exemptions. GRAPHIC / JESSICA GOOLSBY

It’s been a year of battling back for the resilient and determined biofuel industry in Iowa and other states.

Ethanol and biodiesel demand, which plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, is edging back to pre-pandemic levels as Americans get back on the highways. And biofuel production is gearing up to meet the revived demand.

Recent numbers from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed that national ethanol production in late June was at slightly more than a billion barrels per day. That was nearly double the 537 million gallons per day that the production fell to in April of 2020, during the depths of the pandemic.

Biodiesel production was less affected by the pandemic than most other fuels and demand didn’t drop off as much as ethanol. Still, production and demand for biodiesel is expected to rise through 2022, according to EIA.

However, biofuel leaders cautioned that ...




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