Government to offer gas stations incentives for installing E85 pumps

Last Friday, the Obama administration announced that it will offer incentives to gasoline stations that install E85 (a fuel consisting of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) pumps as part of the government's effort to boost the use of biofuels. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that the administration has set a target of having 10,000 additional E85 pumps nationwide over the next five years. In a statement issued on Friday, Vilsack wrote:
Flex-fuel pumps will give Americans a choice to purchase domestically produced renewable transportation fuels.The pumps allow consumers to blend motor fuel with up to 85 percent ethanol for cars that can run on the higher mixes.
The exact dollar figure of the incentive to be handed out to gas stations is unknown at this time, but funding will come from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program. Currently, only 2,350 gas stations out of approximately 167,800 nationwide offer E85 and nearly 8.5 million flex-fuel capable vehicles are in use across the U.S.

[Source: USDA | Image: diaper – C.C. License 2.0]
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USDA Program Provides Consumers More Choices at the Pump With Flex-Fuel Options

Funding for Flex-Fuel Pumps Will Help Build Out Critical Infrastructure and Promote Greater Use of Biofuels

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Americans will soon have more choices at the gas pump through a USDA program that will provide funding for installation of flexible fuel pumps. USDA is issuing a rule to clarify that the definition of renewable energy systems in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) includes flexible fuel pumps, sometimes referred to as "blender pumps." This clarification is intended to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options. The Obama administration has set a goal of installing 10,000 flexible fuel pumps nationwide within 5 years.

"Flex-fuel pumps will give Americans a choice to purchase domestically produced renewable transportation fuels," Vilsack said. "USDA's energy programs are helping to build a clean energy economy, while creating green jobs here at home and making our nation more energy secure in the long-term."

Today, most gasoline sold in this country is a mix of 10 percent ethanol. Currently, there are 8 - 8.5 million flexible fuel vehicles on U.S. roads, constituting about 3.2 - 3.5 percent of the approximately 250 million vehicles on the road. These flexible fuel vehicles can be fueled with E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). There are approximately 2,350 fueling stations that offer E85 of the more than 167,800 stations nationwide. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of E15 testing on vehicles years 2001 and younger. EPA's findings confirms there are additional vehicles on the road able to take advantage of higher ethanol blends than currently available at your local, non-E85, pump.

In addition to flexible fuel pumps being eligible for funding under REAP, Vilsack noted that:

* Grants are available for audits of energy improvements and studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems; and
* Agricultural producers in non-rural areas are eligible for REAP assistance. Small businesses must still be located in rural areas. This clarification makes REAP eligibility requirements consistent with those of other USDA energy programs.

A Federal Register notice on these clarifications will be published in the near future. USDA Rural Development will meet with elected Tribal officials in the upcoming months to discuss the impact of the changes on Tribal governments, communities and individuals. USDA will also host a series of informational meetings and workshops to explain the rule changes and to bring stakeholders together to advance retail Flex-Fuel installations. For information on the meeting in your state, contact for your Rural Development office. A list of these offices can be found at

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $149 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

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