Just moments after the EPA released a proposed regulation that would limit the growth of biofuel production and use in the US, the USDA announced it was investing millions of dollars to increase the number of fuel pumps that dispense renewable fuel. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.
In a statement Vilsack recognized the biobased economy as one of the four pillars of rural economic growth, in addition to production agriculture, local and regional food systems, and conservation and natural resources. He said biofuels lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on foreign oil, give businesses and consumers more energy options and create well-paying American jobs.
In response to the USDA announcement, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said “This program will provide grants to states who then can, in turn, form public or private partnerships to help defer the costs of infrastructure enhancements for higher blends, such as adding blender pumps and retrofitting existing fueling facilities. By helping build out the necessary infrastructure, consumers will have increased choice at the pump. Higher blends, such as E15, give consumers a choice to use homegrown American biofuels that are less expensive, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and bolster local communities and our rural economy by creating jobs that will never be outsourced.”