USDA program will make ethanol a lot easier to find

All over the country, drivers are discovering the many benefits of using higher ethanol blends like E85 and E15: They generally costs less than regular gasoline, often much less; they produce fewer emissions, both the kind that harm health and the kind that degrade the environment. Ethanol also is made in America, without the need to import any of it.
One of the big obstacles to mainstream acceptance of ethanol is that it’s not always easy to find a station that sells it. But that’s about to change in a big way, thanks to an ambitious program announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA is distributing $100 million in grants to 21 states that applied. Thanks the matching funds chipped in by the states and private companies, the total amount of the program, called the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership, the money will fund installation of 4,880 ethanol pumps at 1,486 stations. Currently only about 2,600 retailers sell E85.

Vilsack2“The quality and geographic diversity of the applications, backed by supportive state and private partners, demonstrate the strong demand across the country for cleaner, more affordable fuel,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who announced the program at a Citgo alt-fuel station in Kissimmee, Fla., on Oct. 28. (Incidentally, the cool car Vilsack is posing with in the photo is the No. 3 American Ethanol car driven by NASCAR’s Austin Dillon, powered by E15.)

Of the $99.92 million in USDA grants, Texas, which is home to more flex-fuel vehicles than any other state, received $17 million. Florida got the next-most of any state $16 million, and Illinois $12 million. See, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

To say thank you to the USDA for this forward-thinking program, we’re sending them a card for Thanksgiving! It’s cool-looking, and there’s room on it for everyone’s name. You can check it out here, and join in the Thanksgiving-season gratitude. We’ll be sending it to Secretary Vilsack on Turkey Day.

Every gallon of ethanol sold is a gallon of gasoline that doesn’t get used, benefiting health, the environment and household budgets. And the more it’s available to motorists, the more will get used, multiplying the good.

That’s something to be thankful for.

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