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USDA Announces State Finalists for the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to add infrastructure needed to supply more renewable fuel to America’s drivers.

Pennsylvania is among those states, with an estimated 308 eligible pumps.  Other states in the region with finalists include Ohio (148), Pennsylvania (308), Virginia-Maryland (191), and West Virginia (107).  Funding amounts for each state will be announced at a later date. For more information about BIP, visit the Energy Programs website.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) received applications requesting more than $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With a more than 1:1 match from private and state resources, USDA estimates that the BIP grants will support nearly 5,000 pumps at more than 1,400 fueling stations across the country.

Vilsack said, “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one approach USDA is using to aggressively pursue investments in American-grown renewable energy to create new markets for U.S. farmers, help Americans save money on their energy bills, support America’s clean energy economy, cut carbon pollution and reduce dependence on foreign oil and costly fossil fuels.”

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy most consumers can purchase at the pump. USDA estimates that this investment will more than double the number of stations that offer intermediate blends of ethanol, mainly E15 fuel levels, nationwide.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of ethanol. BIP funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations.

Renewable Fuel Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen used the occasion to criticize the EPA for its proposal to lower biofuel blending amounts under the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS).

“EPA should take a lesson from today’s announcement by USDA,” Dinneen said. “While EPA is thwarting investment in private sector infrastructure by proposing to significantly slash the 2014-2016 biofuel volume obligations contained in the RFS, USDA understands what is necessary to assure consumer access and move our nation’s biofuels industry forward. RFA joins consumers across the country in applauding USDA today for its efforts to encourage a choice of high-octane, low-cost, domestically produced fuel at the pump.”