PLYMOUTH, Minn. – Federal and state officials joined the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, and other renewable fuel advocates today to celebrate surpassing more than 400 E85 fuel stations and 300 stations selling 88 octane gasoline in Minnesota.
The event highlighted the successful completion of the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP), a national public-private effort to make cleaner-burning ethanol fuels available to more American motorists. Through BIP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Minnesota $8 million for ethanol infrastructure development.
“USDA has been working closely with our 20 state grantees to make investments totaling $210 million in Rural America’s energy infrastructure,” said Richard Fordyce, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm Service Agency. USDA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and local organizations, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, American Lung Association in Minnesota, and gas station operators. USDA awarded the Minnesota Department of Agriculture $8 million in 2015 to add another 774 biofuel pumps and 47 tanks among 165 stations throughout the state. “Their success has provided more drivers a choice of affordable fuels at the pump and expanded the market for corn growers,” Fordyce said.
To complement the federal funding, additional development funds were provided by more than $3.5 million in state funds, $2.5 million in private funds, and an investment of more than $9.7 million from fuel station owners. The private grant funds were contributed by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, many of Minnesota’s 20 ethanol producers in partnership with the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, and Growth Energy’s “Prime the Pump” program.
Minnesota has more E85 stations than any other state, and the state has also been a leader in the growth of the new 88 octane gasoline, also known as E15. Under the BIP program, 137 Minnesota locations received funding for the installation of fuel pumps, fuel tanks, and related infrastructure. Project funding was used to install 809 fuel dispensers and 49 fuel storage tanks across the state, exceeding the program’s infrastructure targets.
E85 is a high-ethanol fuel blend that can be used interchangeably with gasoline in Flex Fuel Vehicles. There are more than 350,000 flex fuel vehicles in Minnesota. The 88 octane gasoline is a 15 percent ethanol blend, which has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for any 2001 and newer on-road gasoline light-duty vehicle. Minnesota’s regular 87 octane gasoline has been a 10 percent ethanol blend for more than 20 years now.
“Today we’ve proven that the USDA’s $8 million dollar grant award and the state’s matching contribution were critical investments to expanding fuel choices for Minnesota consumers while also supporting our farmers,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “This is truly something to celebrate.”
“The state’s corn growers are proud to be part of the coalition that has helped make Minnesota a national leader in ethanol infrastructure,” Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) President Brian Thalmann said. “The remarkable growth in retailers has provided more consumers than ever with a lower-priced, cleaner-burning option at the pump, and we look forward to continuing this momentum in the years ahead.”
“The USDA’s BIP program was a great driver in helping the expansion of ethanol-blended fuels into the marketplace and Prime the Pump is proud to have worked hand-in-hand with this program in achieving the incredible footprint in the state of Minnesota,” said Growth Energy’s vice president of market development Mike O’Brien. “Today, there are 1,675 retail stations offering E15 across 30 states, which is a testament to the success of our partnership with the USDA and what allows Prime the Pump to continue to expand the availability of cleaner-burning, engine-smart biofuels across the nation.”
Other ethanol advocates praised the success of the program in Minnesota. “BIP played a crucial role in expanding access to E15 in Minnesota and the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association participated by raising funds and bringing over 100 applicants to the program,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association. “We hope the success of the BIP program will pave the way for another similar joint program by the federal and state governments to bring E15 market penetration in Minnesota to 20 percent.”
“The American Lung Association in Minnesota salutes Minnesota’s progress in offering cleaner-burning, less polluting fuel choices across the state,” said Robert Moffitt, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “Vehicle exhaust is the single largest source of air pollution in the state and offering cleaner transportation options like ethanol blends is a vital step to ensure we all have clean, healthy air to breathe.”
A full list of retail locations selling E85 or 88 octane gasoline in Minnesota is available at www.mnfuels.com.
Margaret Hart, MDA Communications