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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

USDA pandemic assistance to be awarded this month; 2 cos. to get $4.5M of $5.6M in new HBIIP funds

As part of President Joe Biden’s multipronged biofuel booster shot April 12—which included U.S. EPA allowing E15 ethanol to be sold this summer and the agency proposing to approve Renewable Fuel Standard pathways for hydrotreated canola oil—the USDA made several related announcements.

Last June, USDA announced it would provide $700 million for biofuel producers as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. In December, it promoted this opportunity again along with stating that in the coming months it would make $100 million available for biofuel infrastructure. On April 12, USDA stated that producers can finally expect those pandemic-assistance awards before the end of the month, and that it was also making the $100 million in biofuel infrastructure grants it previewed in December available to help offset the cost to distribute and retail higher biofuel blends like B20 biodiesel. As part of the $100 million, USDA will make funding available to support biofuels for railways “as a means of assisting with supply chains and helping to reduce costs for consumer goods and transportation,” the USDA stated.

USDA also stated that it was awarding $5.6 million under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to projects in seven states including California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota. A majority of that funding, $4.5 million of the $5.6 million, is going to two companies.

Specifically, in Illinois, Power Mart Express Corp., doing business as PME, is receiving $2.9 million to increase ethanol sales. In Maryland and Delaware, Royal Farms is getting $1.6 million to install 110 dispensers at 17 fueling stations for “renewable biofuel” with no specifics about whether any of the 17 stations will dispense higher blends of biobased diesel fuels.

Clean Fuels Alliance America applauded the biofuel announcements. “With current diesel fuel shortages and high prices for foreign oil, homegrown biodiesel and renewable diesel are crucial to keep the economy moving,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for Clean Fuels. “U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers are working hard to provide Americans a better, cleaner replacement for fuel made from imported crude oil. On behalf of Clean Fuels’ members, I applaud the president’s announcement and the administration’s steps to build lasting energy security with homegrown biofuels. We welcome the administration’s strategy to support growth for homegrown biofuels that are critical to expanding Americans’ options for affordable fuel in the short-term and to building real energy independence in the long-term. We greatly appreciate EPA’s commitment to approving new RFS pathway petitions for renewable fuels that can provide greenhouse gas benefits as well as reduce reliance on foreign oil.”

Clean Fuels shared that, to date, USDA’s HBIIP grants have supported more than two dozen biodiesel projects that will increase consumer access to better, cleaner fuel by nearly 1 billion gallons per year. A forthcoming study from World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services shows that without the supply of U.S.-produced biodiesel and renewable diesel to meet heavy-duty transportation fuel demand, diesel prices would be 4 percent higher on average over the past several years. In 2021, the U.S. market for biodiesel and renewable diesel reached 3.2 billion gallons.


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