USDA offers $100M for ethanol pumps

USDA offers $100M for ethanol pumps
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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering states up to $100 million to encourage the use of gasoline pumps that blend high amounts of ethanol into the fuel.

The effort is meant to bring more ethanol to consumers that can use high blends, like 15 percent or 85 percent ethanol.

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The announcement came Friday, the same day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disappointed corn growers and others involved in ethanol production by proposing an ethanol blending mandate lower than than the targets set in law.

“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,” Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas James VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said in a statement.

“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,” he said.

The USDA program will match state funds to help install so-called blender pumps, which allow consumers to specify the amount of ethanol in their gasoline.

Only certain vehicles and engines can handle more than 10 percent ethanol in gasoline, a factor that has affected how high the EPA will go with its mandate.

But for owners of the engines that can handle higher blends, the special pumps could be the key to injecting more ethanol into the market, the USDA said.

The USDA hopes to double the number of ethanol blending pumps in the country through the new grants, it said.