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USDA Rolls Out $100 Million For Ethanol Blender Pumps

On the same day leaders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they're trimming the RFS ethanol mandate for the next 3 years but increasing biodiesel's share of the mandate, USDA officials jumped into the renewable fuels fray Friday, announcing new funding for the establishment of blender pumps around the nation that they hope will help grow demand for the homegrown fuels.

Friday's announcement entails an additional $100 million in funding for the pumps' retrofitting and construction, administered as grants to match state funding mechanisms to "test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85," according to a Friday USDA statement.

"American-made, clean energy sources support the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and sustain the economy in rural communities across the country. We are fortunate that our farmers are producing record amounts of feedstock for these fuels," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday, adding that funding opportunities will be weighted toward states that "are able to provide greater than a 1-to-1 ratio in funding." "However, a combination of factors, including lower commodity prices and reduced demand for feed as the poultry industry recovers from highly pathogenic avian influenza, are creating uncertainty for America's corn and soybean producers. With this partnership, USDA is helping to ensure the infrastructure is in place for consumers to access more renewable fuels, expand marketing opportunities for farmers, and grow America's rural economies."

The blender pump announcement comes the same day EPA officials announced their intentions to make adjustments to the Renewable Fuels Standard, pulling back the ethanol mandate through 2016 and bumping the biodiesel mandate through 2017.

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