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Serving: MN

USDA awards funds to upgrade ethanol infrastructure

MCGA ethanol gas pump
ETHANOL BOOST: USDA funding through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program is projected to boost U.S. ethanol use by 150 million gallons.
The updates are projected to boost ethanol sales by nearly 13 million gallons.

Six Minnesota fuel retailers will receive funding to upgrade pumps and tanks to sell E15 fuel, boosting their ethanol volume by nearly 13 million gallons.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the announcement Oct. 8 at a news conference held at Trail's Travel Center in Albert Lea, Minn. Minnesota is one of several states where fuel retailers will receive to expand ethanol infrastructure as part of USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).

Thus far, USDA has invested $22 million out of $100 million in grants available to increase ethanol and biodiesel sales through the HBIIP. USDA projects the investments to increase U.S. ethanol demand annually by nearly 150 million gallons.

Trail Travel Plaza is one of the six Minnesota retailers to receive funding. Specifically, it will receive $253,006 to replace 36 dispensers and one storage tank. Overall, the project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by 6,626,849 gallons per year.

The other Minnesota retailers to receive HBIIP funds are:

Harikrishna LLC. $119,000 to replace four dispensers and two storage tanks at one fueling station. Projected ethanol sales increase: 384,800 gallons per year.

Buy Rite Services Inc. $475,000 to replace 25 dispensers and four storage tanks at seven fueling stations. Projected ethanol sales increase: 2,214,648 gallons per year.

West Central Petroleum Services Inc. $225,500 to replace nine dispensers at one fueling station. Projected ethanol sales increase: 1,249,272 gallons per year.

Fuhr Enterprises Inc. $607,821 to replace 28 dispensers and three storage tanks at three fueling stations. Projected ethanol sales increase: 2,158,008 gallons per year.

Northdale Oil Inc. $181,000 to replace 16 dispensers at three fueling stations. Projected ethanol sales increase: 210,429 gallons per year.

“As we see E15 continue to break sales records year after year, it is clear Minnesotans want an option at the pump that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality,” said Tim Waibel, MCGA president. “Investing in ethanol infrastructure through HBIIP will make it easier than ever for consumers to find E15, bringing us closer to reaching our environmental goals while supporting an ethanol industry thousands of farmers and rural communities depend on.”

Minnesotans continue to set record highs in E15 gallons pumped each year. More than 350 retailers currently offer E15, up from only 14 in 2014.

Too little too late?

While the announcement for funding new ethanol infrastructure was well-received by some in the state, other farmers express frustration about the broken ethanol promises made by the current White House administration.

Rural America 2020, a bipartisan nonprofit network of farmers and rural leaders working to educate rural Americans on public policy issues, has issued news releases and a YouTube video expressing frustration over Trump administration waivers for oil refineries that undercut ethanol demand.

The network also cites presidential promises that did not happen: Adding 500 million gallons of ethanol and 500 million gallons of advanced biofuels to a 2020 supplemental blending rule and adding 250 million gallons of biodiesel to 2021 blending volumes.

Prior to releasing the video, some members of Rural America 2020 issued statements about their frustration with the current administration.

“In 2019, President [Donald] Trump came to Council Bluffs and promised farmers that we’d be seeing increased demand for ethanol through year-round E15,” said Iowa farmer Doug Thompson. “But that promise amounted to nothing since the president quadrupled the number of exemptions for big oil companies so they could get out of ethanol requirements.

“Today, E15 can be found in less than 1% of America’s filling stations."

Minnesota farmer Jim Nichols said the president’s giveaways to big oil have U.S. cost corn farmers more than 4 billion in lost biofuel demand.

“This ad will expose the president’s actual record of over three and a half years of broken promises to farmers who depend on ethanol to support their families,” Nichols said. “Getting the word out is even more important now that the president is trying to pull the wool over farmers’ eyes by making last minute promises [with less than one month to the election].

“We’ve seen these promises before and we’ve seen that big oil lobbyists win out each time.”

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