The Department of Agriculture is asking for input from biofuel stakeholders on a new incentives program to build out domestic ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure at retail gas stations.

The move by USDA to create the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) is an attempt to increase the sales of E15, gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, and B20 biodiesel, diesel blended with up to 20 percent biodiesel.

Speaking at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, Iowa, Thursday, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky said the goal is to build out the infrastructure.

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“What can we do to both build out the infrastructure and incentivize the retailers to be offering higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, so we can have that market demand,” Censky said in his speech.

The new program builds on the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) announced in 2015. The department administered BIP from 2016-2019 through state and private partners to expand the availability of E15 and E85 infrastructure.

Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said he is glad to see biodiesel included in the infrastructure incentive program.

He said while improving biodiesel blender pumps at retail stations across the country is encouraging, he would like to see “more tank capacity, (like) heated and insulated tanks” for year-round blending capabilities at terminals and more facilities with blending capabilities.

“Sometimes you have to go further distances between various terminal blending sites for biodiesel. We just need more of those dotting all of the landscape of the country,” Kimberley told Agri-Pulse.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, is excited about the program too but hopes it's less cumbersome than its predecessor.

“It was very clunky and there were a lot of weird things to do to get the money like partner with a state, that made it difficult and slow,” Shaw told Agri-Pulse. Shaw hopes this program will be more streamlined with a faster implementation process.

Other biofuel organization heads such as Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol also were encouraged by the program announcement.

Censky said the program would be implemented this year. 

A full description of the RFI is available on page 2699 of the Jan. 16, 2020, Federal Register.

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