Durbin: Illinois to Join New Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership
Senator meets with Illinois Farm Bureau to discuss renewable fuels and agricultural priorities
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following a meeting with the Illinois Farm Bureau, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has named Illinois a finalist to receive funding through the new Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Through this program, the USDA is making up to $100 million available in grants to states like Illinois that are testing innovative ways to distribute higher blends of renewable fuel. Durbin and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) wrote a letter of support for Illinois’ application to the program earlier this year.
“Today, Secretary Vilsack announced federal funding for a new initiative to support our nation’s biofuels industry from the heart of our nation’s farmland: Illinois,” Durbin said. “Illinois’ biofuels industry supports thousands of jobs and helps drive economic development in our rural communities. I am pleased to see our state in a position to take advantage of new federal resources made available through the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership. But we cannot forget the promise of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Thousands of farmers, industry players and a bipartisan array of Congressional leaders have spoken with one voice: it’s time for the Administration to step up and deliver a strong Renewable Fuel Standard for 2015 and beyond.”
Yesterday, Durbin also met with members of the Illinois Farm Bureau yesterday to discuss efforts to support Illinois’ biofuels industry and advance the deployment of biofuel infrastructure across the state. A photo of that meeting is available here.
In May, USDA announced an investment of up to $100 million in the BIP, which will administer competitive grants to states that are testing innovative ways to distribute higher blends of renewable fuel. This funding seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers, expanding the marketplace for biofuels and decreasing energy costs. More information on today’s announcement is available here.
The full text of Durbin and Kirk’s letter of support is available below.
August 6, 2015
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
We write in support of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) application for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to advance the deployment of biofuel infrastructure across Illinois.
Through DCEO’s proposed public-private partnership, Illinois E-15 & E-85 Infrastructure Program, USDA BIP funding would expand markets for farmers in Illinois and help our state further diversify its energy portfolio in both rural and urban areas. Together with a diverse group of industry partners, DCEO will facilitate the deployment of approximately 57 E-15/E-85 public refueling stations throughout the state. The projects included in DCEO’s proposal can begin construction and installation immediately once the awards are announced. This partnership would support economic growth and jobs in Illinois, while providing consumers more choices at the pump. The proposal is estimated to increase the sale of E-15 and E-85 in Illinois by approximately 152 million gallons or 33% annually and increase total ethanol blended fuels by 4.6 billion over the next 10 years.
The continued advancement of biofuels in Illinois helps support a strong agricultural economy. The state’s 14 ethanol plants have an annual production capacity of 1.4 billion gallons, representing nearly 10 percent of U.S. capacity. The ethanol industry in Illinois supports more than 70,000 jobs, paying out $4.7 billion in annual wages and creating $17.5 billion in annual economic output. With the potential to support additional good-paying jobs across the state and the promise of more affordable fueling options for consumers in Illinois, we strongly support DCEO’s grant application.
Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to working with you as this initiative moves forward.
Richard J. Durbin Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator U.S. Senator
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