Bill authorizes $600 million to support biofuel infrastructure

By Erin Voegele | April 28, 2020

Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, on April 28 announced the introduction of the Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020. The bill aims to provide funding for installing and converting fuel pump infrastructure to deliver higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; and Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

The bill authorizes $600 million over five years to help retailers offer higher ethanol blends, expand the geographic area selling ethanol blends, support biodiesel, bioheat, and sustainable aviation fuel markets, and accelerate the deployment of fueling infrastructure.

The legislation directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish a grant program to award grants to eligible entities that will be used cover costs related to the incentivizing deployment of fueling infrastructure; converting existing pump infrastructure to deliver ethanol blends of greater than 10 percent and biodiesel blends of greater than 20 percent; and the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends and higher biodiesel blends at fueling locations. Funding could also be provided to help build and retrofit traditional and pipeline terminals, including rail lines, to blend biodiesel, and to build and retrofit pipelines to carry ethanol and biodiesel.

The bill requires any infrastructure used or installed with funds provided under the program to be certified by Underwriters Laboratory to distribute blends with an ethanol content of 25 percent or greater.  

Grants awarded under the program could cover up to 75 percent of the per pump cost for pumps that can dispense ethanol blends up to and including E85, and dedicated E15 and E85 pumps. Grants could be awarded to cover up to 50 percent of the terminal costs for terminals with B100 capabilities, and up to 25 percent of the per tank cost for new storage tanks and related equipment associated with new facilities or additional capacity, other than replacement.

The bill authorizes $100 million each for fiscal years 2021 through 2026 to support the grant program.

"The time is now to further diversify our fuel supply and move more biofuels into the market," Finkenauer said. "Biofuels offer a proven path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonizing the transportation sector, driving economic growth and creating jobs. I'm grateful to have bipartisan support from Representatives Bacon, Craig and Marshall. Cleaner fuels are good for our economy and our environment, and we’re going to keep fighting for them."

Several biofuel groups have spoken out in support of the Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020.

“The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association thanks Rep. Finkenauer for leading the way on legislation to expand consumer access to cleaner-burning biofuels,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowqa Renewable Fuels Association. “At a time when fuel demand is down nationwide and farmers and biofuel producers are hurting, it is more important than ever that drivers have access to higher blends of biofuels at the pump. When given the option, drivers choose time and time again to fill up with biofuel blends that are better for the environment and support American jobs. This bill would go a long way to ensuring more Americans have that choice.”

“The strong support of rural champions like Reps. Finkenauer, Marshall, Craig, and Bacon has never been more important, and we are grateful for their continued leadership on behalf of American farmers and biofuel producers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Through the original Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership grants and private fundraising, Growth Energy and Prime the Pump shattered the status quo and supported the installation of E15 at more than 2,000 retail locations. As we emerge from the COVID-19 downturn, this legislation offers a roadmap for the next wave of growth that will revitalize rural communities and expand cleaner, more affordable options at the pump for millions of American motorists. We urge House and Senate leaders to embrace this opportunity to support low-carbon biofuels and propel higher blends into the next decade.”

“The renewable fuels industry is facing the worst crisis in its history today as a result of COVID-19, and producers across the nation are in need of immediate emergency relief to survive this catastrophe,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Once the pandemic is behind us and economic recovery is well underway, expanding infrastructure for higher biofuel blends will be critical to the long-term future of the renewable fuels industry and rural America. We thank Reps. Finkenauer, Marshall, Craig and Bacon for their vision and we applaud their efforts to create a brighter future for biofuels.”

“The entire renewable fuels supply chain is undergoing an unprecedented catastrophe with the sudden and severe fall in ethanol demand as a result of the coronavirus, and a plan to provide ethanol producers with immediate economic aid is urgently needed as we requested in our letter to President Trump yesterday,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “However, when the threat of the pandemic subsides and the economy again begins to pick up, initiatives like the Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020 will help drive fuel retailers to offer their customers cleaner, low cost ethanol blends at the pump. We welcome this effort by Representatives Finkenauer, Craig, Bacon, and Marshall to help ensure the longevity and availability of renewable fuels into the future.”

“The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the leadership of Reps. Finkenauer, Craig, Marshall and Bacon to help grow the market for higher blends of ethanol,” said Kevin Ross, Iowa farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association. “Expanding infrastructure for higher blends will help to increase future demand for farmers and ensure biofuels will continue to be included in federal efforts to provide consumers with cleaner, affordable fuels.”  

 “The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) thanks Representative Abby Finkenauer for her work on the Clean Fuels Deployment Act that will expand long-term economic opportunities for farmers and biofuels producers,” said Kelly Nieuwenhuis farmer from Primghar, Iowa and chair of Iowa Corn’s Industrial Usage committee. “Additionally this bill will allow consumers to have greater access to homegrown, cleaner-burning fuels.”