The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will spend up to $100 million in grants to help expand the infrastructure of renewable fuels.

The funding has been allocated under the USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership. Under this new program, the agricultural department will collaborate with state governments and private companies with the goal of increasing the availability of biofuels at retail fueling stations.

“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,” said the USDA. “States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced the partnership last week, explained that the scope of the program extends beyond its environmental benefits.

“American-made, clean energy sources support the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and sustain the economy in rural communities across the country. We are fortunate that our farmers are producing record amounts of feedstock for these fuels,” Vilsack said.

“However, a combination of factors, including lower commodity prices and reduced demand for feed as the poultry industry recovers from highly pathogenic avian influenza, are creating uncertainty for America’s corn and soybean producers. With this partnership, USDA is helping to ensure the infrastructure is in place for consumers to access more renewable fuels, expand marketing opportunities for farmers, and grow America’s rural economies.”

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According to the USDA, most gas pumps can deliver fuel with no more than 10 percent ethanol. Part of expanding the infrastructure will mean installing new fuel pumps to accommodate E15 and E85, which are higher blends of biofuel. The USDA plans to double the number of biofuel pumps currently installed in retail station.

The Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership will also supplement other biofuel-focused programs.

“USDA has invested $332 million over the past six years to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production,” the department said.

Additionally, six new refineries in Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Oregon have recently been built with support from the USDA.

The USDA said it will begin taking applications in June for the grants.


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