The Department of Agriculture announced the first round of grants on Thursday from a $100 million program for the installation of pumps and storage tanks to increase the sale of higher blends of biofuels, such as E15 or E85. Projects in 14 states, from California to Florida and New York, will be funded by the $22 million in grants, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Grants totaling $100 million will be available to install or retrofit fuel pumps and storage tanks to handle higher blends of corn ethanol and biodiesel than now commonly offered, said the USDA, with details to be available by mid-spring. "USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of home-grown energy," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Congress is on the verge of retroactive restoration of the $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax credit, a result of the last-minute inclusion of a package of tax breaks in a mammoth government funding bill. The House passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to approve it by the end of the week.
Administration officials will hold their first White House meeting in a month on the Renewable Fuel Standard, as ethanol makers and corn growers fear an attack on the ethanol mandate. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said if the White House weakens the RFS, it "will be viewed as nothing less than a declaration of war on rural America and a complete abdication of [President Trump's] repeated promises to protect the RFS."
Biodiesel makers in Argentina and Indonesia should face anti-dumping duties of up to 277 percent on their shipments to the United States, ruled the Commerce Department in a case brought by domestic producers.
An investigation by activist groups Mighty Earth and ActionAid USA challenges the notion of biodiesel as the environmentally responsible fuel of the future. Burned: Deception, Deforestation and America’s Biodiesel Policy claims that growing demand for biodiesel in the U.S. contributes to a host of problems, from deforestation in Argentina and Indonesia to algae blooms in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said that he doubts there is room for a compromise with oil-state senators over the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that there had been no discussion among senators about one.
President Trump will meet oil industry leaders and their congressional allies for a discussion of the biofuels mandate, reported Reuters, based on two sources. The meeting "could set the stage for negotiations to overhaul the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard," said the wire service; the industry has pressed for years to eliminate the mandate or revise its requirement to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.
Farm-state officials played their Trump card six weeks ago, calling in White House support to quash potential cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets U.S. targets for biofuel consumption.