USDA seeks input on new biofuel infrastructure incentive program

By Erin Voegele | January 16, 2020

The USDA on Jan. 16 launched a request for information (RFI) seeking public input to aid in the creation of its new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, which aims to expand the availability of ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion and sales of renewable fuels.

“Feedback from farmers, retailers and biofuels producers is critical to the success of this future program,” said Agriculture Secretary Perdue. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA remains committed to fulfilling a key promise to American farmers to enhance the promotion of biofuels."

The RFI notes the agency is exploring options to expand domestic ethanol and biodiesel availability and is seeking information on opportunities to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuels blends of E15/B20 or higher. The effort will build on infrastructure investments and experience gained through the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership, a program administered by USDA from 2016-2019 that expanded the availability of E15 and E85 infrastructure.

The USDA is seeking input on several specific issues. The agency is asking stakeholders what type of assistance or incentive would encourage the sales and use of ethanol and/or biodiesel in a way that is most cost-effective to the government. This includes what types of equipment and infrastructure should be eligible under the program. The USDA is also seeking input on what program funding provided to participants should cover, such as direct cost-share toward the purchase of equipment, or higher blend biofuel sales or marketing incentives. The agency also asks if the program should include minimum standards for equipment.

Within the RFI, the USDA also asks stakeholders what efforts have proven to be effective in increasing higher blend sales and if the program should include a requirement for signage and marketing. In addition, the agency asks for input on whether it should insist on consistent terminology and blending and naming of higher level blends, such as E15 and B20.

Growth Energy issued a statement welcoming UDSA’s action. “We appreciate the USDA’s outreach, and we look forward to sharing our insights on efforts to expand the availability of cleaner, lower-cost fuel options,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and breaking down market barriers to higher ethanol blends are pillars of the president’s commitment to farm families and rural workers, and positive results are well overdue. Smart infrastructure investments will support rural jobs and allow more drivers across the nation to take advantage of the administration’s move to unleash sales of E15 year-round.”

A full list of issues the USDA is seeking input on is available on the Federal Register website. Comments can be submitted through Jan. 30 on www.Regualtions.gov under Docket ID RBS-20-Business-0002.