USDA pushes for clean, affordable biofuels


COLUMBUS — United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Jonathan McCracken recently announced that USDA is awarding nearly $5 million in grants to U.S. business owners to increase the availability of domestic biofuels in and give Americans cleaner, more affordable fuel options at gas station pumps in Ohio and surrounding states.

“USDA has been working diligently to provide opportunities that help strengthen economic independence in rural America,” McCracken said. “Today’s investment not only strengthens our energy independence through the increased use of biofuels made right here in the U.S., it lowers costs for consumers and creates new opportunities for American farmers.”

Blending ethanol into gasoline has helped reduce fuel costs by approximately 25 percent, contributing to falling gas prices across the country. Gas prices are now under $2.99 in more than half of U.S. states and saving the average driver more than $100 per month relative to peak prices. USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) increases the number of Americans that benefit from falling prices by expanding the use of ethanol-based fuels at gas stations around the nation.

USDA has invested more than $96 million nationwide to increase access to biofuels at fueling stations since the beginning of 2020.

Through this most recent tranche of HBIIP awards, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. is receiving nearly $5 million to expand access to domestic biofuels in 17 states and strengthen America’s energy independence.

Funding will help to retrofit 704 E15 dispensers at 88 fueling stations, including locations in the following Ohio communities: Baltimore, Burbank, Dayton, Hubbard, Jeffersonville, Perrysburg, and Zanesville. This investment is anticipated to increase the amount of ethanol sold by more than 86 million gallons per year.

The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) provides grants to fueling station and distribution facility owners, including marine, rail, and home heating oil facilities, to help expand access to domestic biofuels, a clean and affordable source of energy. These investments help business owners install and upgrade infrastructure such as fuel pumps, dispensers and storage tanks. Expanding the availability of homegrown biofuels strengthens energy independence, creates new revenue for American businesses and brings good-paying jobs to rural communities.

In June 2023, USDA made $450 million available in Inflation Reduction Act funding through the HBIIP to expand the use and availability of higher-blend biofuels. That same month, USDA also announced the first round of Inflation Reduction Act-funded HBIIP awardees.

USDA continues to accept applications for funding to expand access to domestic biofuels. These grants will support the infrastructure needed to reduce out-of-pocket costs for transportation fueling and distribution facilities to install and upgrade biofuel-related infrastructure such as pumps, dispensers and storage tanks. There are three quarterly application windows left, and the program ends Sept. 30, 2024. The next application deadline is March 31, 2024.

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