President Joe Biden announced that his administration would use existing authority to prevent drivers from losing access to lower-cost and lower-emission E15, a higher ethanol blend often marketed as Unleaded 88.
According to the National Corn Growers Association, ethanol has been priced an average of 80 cents less per gallon than unblended gasoline at wholesale through March, and drivers currently save up to 20 cents or more per gallon where E15 is available.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making the following investments as part of the plan outlined by President Biden:
- $5.6 million for Infrastructure for Renewable Fuels through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program: USDA is announcing funding in 7 states to build infrastructure to expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 59.5 million gallons per year. States included in this investment are California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and South Dakota.
- For example, in Illinois, Power Mart Express Corp., DBA PME, is receiving a $2.9 million grant to increase ethanol sales by 17.5 million gallons per year. This project will replace 293 dispensers and 30 storage tanks at 15 fueling stations in Chicago, Maywood, Cicero, Des Plaines, and Wilmington.
- $700 Million for Biofuels Producers: As part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, USDA is providing up to $700 million in funding through a new Biofuel Producer Program. The Program will support agricultural producers that rely on biofuels producers as a market for their agricultural products. Producers can expect awards before the end of April.
- $100 Million for Biofuels Infrastructure: USDA announced $100 million in new funding for grants for biofuels infrastructure to make it easier for gas stations to sell and to significantly increase the use of higher blends of bioethanol and biodiesel at the pump. USDA will also 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.
- Spurring a New Market in Sustainable Aviation Fuels: USDA is partnering across the federal government to advance the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in American transportation and investing billions of dollars in research and agricultural activities to improve aircraft fuel efficiency:
- A new Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge to inspire the dramatic increase in the production of sustainable aviation fuels to at least 3 billion gallons per year by 2030.
- New and ongoing funding opportunities to support sustainable aviation fuel projects and fuel producers totaling up to $4.3 billion; and
- An increase in R&D activities to demonstrate new technologies that can achieve at least a 30% improvement in aircraft fuel efficiency.
Ethanol adds billions of gallons to the U.S. fuel supply every year, lowering demand for high-cost oil while increasing the total fuel available to consumers. Corn farmers’ increased productivity and efficiency have resulted in higher yields, using fewer resources to meet food, feed and fuel needs to help keep prices down.
Moreover, allowing continued E15 sales through the summer keeps a lower-emission fuel in the marketplace. E15 has lower volatility than regular fuel, which is a 10% ethanol blend, and using E15 results in lower evaporative and exhaust emissions, important during the summer driving season.
“We applaud President Biden and his administration for recognizing that low-cost, low-carbon ethanol should be given a fair opportunity to strengthen our energy security and reduce record-high pump prices,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “Giving fuel retailers the freedom to offer E15 this summer will not only result in lower fuel prices for hardworking Americans, but it will also cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce tailpipe pollution linked to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and other health concerns. As our nation copes with energy price inflation and strives to enhance energy security and diversity, we salute President Biden for turning to America’s farmers and biofuel producers for ingenuity and solutions.”
These important investments will assist in the development, transportation, and distribution of low-carbon fuels, better market access for producers, and more affordable and cleaner fuels for American consumers.