USDA announces $26 million in third round of HBIIP awards

By Erin Voegele | August 19, 2021

The USDA on Aug. 19 announced $26 million in investments under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The funds will expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by 822 million gallons annually in 23 states, according to the USDA.

Investments under the program will support expanded use of both ethanol and biodiesel. This latest round of awards will support 34 projects in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin. 

 “Investments like these increase opportunities for American consumers to make climate-smart decisions and move the country closer to President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Justin Maxson, deputy undersecretary for USDA Rural Development. “By expanding the availability of higher-blend biofuels, we’re giving consumers more environmentally-friendly fuel choices when they fill up at the pump and stimulating an important market for U.S. farmers and ranchers.”

This is the third round of awards the USDA has made under the HBIIP program. The agency awarded $22 million under the program to 40 recipients in 14 states in October 2020, and $18.4 million to 23 recipients in 20 states in April 2021. To date, the USDA said it has invested $66.4 million through the HBIIP for projects that are expected to increase biofuels sales by 1.2 billion gallons annually. Additional awards may be made in the future, as USDA in February 2020 said it would allocate up to $100 million to the program.

The National Biodiesel Board is applauding the latest round of HBIIP awards. "The biodiesel industry provides Americans cleaner, better fuels for transportation and home heating. Biodiesel reduces carbon emissions on average by 74 percent and considerably cuts particulate matter and other criteria pollutant emissions, which can generate immediate health care savings," said Kurt Kovarik, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. "Updating America's infrastructure to expand consumer access to low-carbon biodiesel and Bioheat® fuel is a low-cost, high-return investment in meeting the nation's goals for near-term carbon reductions.

"On behalf of NBB's members, I want to thank USDA and Secretary Vilsack for assisting the biodiesel industry through this very effective program,” Kovarik continued. “The return on investment is already evident. We also thank Senators Amy Klobuchar and Joni Ernst and Representatives Cindy Axne, Rodney Davis, and Dusty Johnson for sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would enable USDA to continue to offer these cost-sharing grants."

The Renewable Fuel Association is also welcoming the HBIIP awards. “The grants announced by USDA today will help facilitate the continued expansion of lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel blends like E15 and E85,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “RFA is proud to have assisted many of these retailers and marketers in identifying their equipment needs and preparing their grant applications. We look forward to continuing to work with these innovative retailers as their projects enter the next phase. RFA thanks USDA and Secretary Vilsack for continuing to prioritize this important program. Secretary Vilsack clearly understands that renewable fuels like ethanol should play a key role in the Biden administration’s strategy to decarbonize the transportation sector and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”