The USDA is providing US$100 million in competitive grants for infrastructure projects
By Diego Flammini
The USDA has created a new grant program to promote ethanol production across the country.
The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) provides US$100 million in grants to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities “install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel.”
In addition, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued a memo directing USDA officials to replace conventional gasoline vehicles in the department’s fleet with alternative-fueled vehicles that can accommodate E85 (ethanol blends containing between 51 percent and 83 percent ethanol) or biodiesel.
These actions will help U.S. farmers sell their crops while also managing greenhouse gas emissions, Perdue said.
“Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel-capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe,” he said in a Feb. 28 statement.
The U.S. auto industry appears capable of handling increased blends of ethanol.
Around 93 per cent of 2019 model year vehicles were approved by manufacturers to use E15, a study conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association said.
The grant program will help retailers put the proper infrastructure in place to ensure more biofuel is used in more vehicles.
“The grant program that USDA is announcing will expand consumers' access to cleaner, better transportation and heating fuels, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel,” Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs with the National Biodiesel Board, said in a Feb. 28 release. “USDA's fleet program can add significant market pull for those biofuels simply by utilizing available data on where to fill up."
Farms.com has reached out to U.S. farm groups for comment.