To create new markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, help Americans save money on their energy bills, support America's clean energy economy, cut carbon pollution, and reduce dependence on foreign oil and costly fossil fuels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to aggressively pursue investments in American-grown renewable energy.
As part of that commitment, USDA is investing $100 million in clean energy infrastructure that will make more options available to American consumers. USDA recently announced that 21 states will receive the funds, through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, to install nearly 5,000 pumps offering higher blends of ethanol nationwide. This will be made possible by matching the $100 million federal investment with private and state resources at a more than one-to-one ratio. Through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, USDA will test innovative ways to distribute higher blends of renewable fuel. A typical gas pump can deliver fuel that contains a maximum 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy most consumers can purchase at the pump, despite the fact that our farmers now produce record amounts of renewable biofuels.
This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers, such as E15 and E85. This will also expand markets for farmers and help them diversify their rural energy portfolios, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more affordable options at the pump.
The United States exported more than $2 billion dollars of ethanol last year, making the United States the world's largest exporter of ethanol. Other countries are investing in clean energy technologies because they realize the tremendous economic potential of these energy sources, and we must do the same to remain competitive.
Still, a combination of factors is creating uncertain times for America's corn and soybean producers. Lower commodity prices and reduced demand for feed as the poultry industry recovers from the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus are putting pressure on producers and sectors of the U.S. economy. These competitive grants will create additional markets for feedstock commodities and will be funded through USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which was created to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices.
Increased domestic production and use of renewable energy, paired with growing renewable energy exports, has the potential to support hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural communities. This announcement builds on USDA's ongoing efforts to work with farmers and ranchers to support a robust clean energy economy in rural America, including:
- Incentivizing more than 850 growers and landowners farming nearly 48,000 acres to produce dedicated, nonfood energy crops for delivery to facilities that produce renewable energy.
- Doubling the number of farms using a renewable energy producing system since 2007. Between 2009 and 2014, USDA has supported 2,200 wind and solar renewable electricity generation projects, enough to power more than 130,000 homes annually.
- Building 8 new biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels.
- Funding 93 anaerobic digesters to help farm operations produce electricity from captured methane. Thanks to a partnership with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to reduce greenhouse emissions across the supply chain, most of these projects are at dairy operations.
- Accelerating the development of domestic, competitively-priced "drop-in" diesel and jet fuel substitutes. Last year, three companies were awarded a contract to supply the U.S. Navy with over 100 million gallons per year of advanced drop-in biofuels beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.
- Investing in two commercial aviation biofuel projects including a New Mexico facility which produces "green" crude oil from algae, which can be refined into transportation fuel; and a Nevada biorefinery which will produce aviation biofuel from municipal solid waste.
- Working with farmers, ranchers and rural communities to install renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions. This will generate and save more than 9.4 billion kWh-enough energy to power 820,000 American homes each year.
- Contributing to renewable energy research through $332 million in funding for projects ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production.
- Supporting U.S. exports of distiller's dried grains (DDG), a byproduct of ethanol production used as a high-protein feed for livestock and poultry. U.S. DDG exports have tripled since 2008 and reached a record $3.4 billion last year.
- Working to strengthen markets for biobased products. Approximately 2,000 products now carry USDA's BioPreferred label, which helps to clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources to consumers. Companies in over 40 countries on six continents are now participating in USDA's BioPreferred program.
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