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More Than 5,000 New Pumps Planned

USDA announces plan to nearly double the number of biofuel pumps across the country with $100 million in grants to match state-level and private funding.

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In the "lightning strikes twice" department, another California company in the green transportation field has said it paid off its federal government loans ahead of schedule. In this case, San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, which specializes in converting plant algae to crude oil, says it has paid off its $54.5-million loan, originally granted by the US Department of Agriculture, ahead of schedule.

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67-year-old H. Max Speight, a disbarred Tennessee attorney, has been sentenced by a federal court and will serve a 26-month sentence for defrauding a federal biofuels subsidy program. Though his sentence may be considered harsh, Speight's partner, William Tacker II, was convicted and sentenced to five years behind bars, plus a mandatory repayment of funds, which he collected by filing fraudulent claims with the federal government.

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Given that the United States military spends a large amount of its resources fighting to secure regions of the world that are most important as a source of crude oil, it would certainly make tactical sense to reduce its dependence on those fuels. Some small scale tests of biofuels in military vehicles have occurred in recent years.

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The Department of Agriculture predicts that the U.S., which exports 45-50 million tons of corn yearly, will instead convert 50 million tons to ethanol next year. Last year alone the country exported over 40 million tons which is enough to feed over 130 million people.

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