FILE PHOTO: A corn field and storage bins are seen on the Doug Zink farm near Carrington, North Dakota, U.S., August 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dan Koeck/File Photo

The US Department of Agriculture has announced its plan to invest $450 million in expanding the production and accessibility of transportation fuels blended with higher volumes of biofuels, as revealed on Monday.

The Biden administration considers the increased utilization of low-emission biofuels as a crucial step towards decarbonizing the transportation sector.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disclosed record-breaking targets for a federal program that mandates oil refiners to incorporate biofuels into the country’s fuel mixture. However, these targets were lower than what the ethanol industry had anticipated.

During a conference call with reporters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized that the Biden-Harris administration has been incredibly supportive of the biofuel industry, surpassing previous administrations’ levels of support.

The funding, sourced from the Inflation Reduction Act, will be allocated to the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). HBIIP is a cost-sharing initiative that aids fuel facilities in constructing and updating infrastructure to facilitate biofuel blending and distribution.

Furthermore, the agency has announced the recipients of $25 million in grants from a previous HBIIP funding round.

Minnesota Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, representing a prominent biofuel state, joined Secretary Vilsack on the call and expressed their belief that this investment will generate employment opportunities while enhancing national security.

Klobuchar emphasized the importance of energy independence, stating, “We don’t want to rely on other countries for our energy needs.”

The Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group, asserts that corn-derived ethanol, the most widely utilized biofuel, can potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% compared to gasoline.

However, some academics and environmental organizations contest this claim, arguing that biofuel usage may actually lead to increased emissions due to the carbon released when farmers cultivate crops through tilling.


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