USDA Awards Biofuel Infrastructure Grants in Nebraska; More Funds Available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $19 million worth of Higher Blend Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants in 22 states, benefiting 16 Nebraska retail locations across the state.

Launched in July 2023 with a $450 million budget, HBIIP aims to boost sustainable fuel markets by supporting ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure improvements. The current application window closes on March 31, 2024. Additional application windows will follow until funds are exhausted. Check out the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s HBIIP 101 for application deadlines, resources for grant writing and technical support, webinars, and tips on making the application process easier.

The USDA encourages fuel retailers of all sizes to apply, sharing costs for biofuel-related infrastructure development. The program has a targeted assistance goal of 50% of funding going toward those owning 10 or fewer stations. Priority will be given to applications who meet geographic diversity points, such as being the only station within a one-mile radius and/or stations located within one mile of the interstate that are easily accessible.

Biofuels are vital for energy security, air pollution reduction, and rural economic development. According to the USDA, about 96 percent – roughly 220 million – of the vehicles on U.S. roads today may legally use E15. This includes vehicles with model year 2001 and newer that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved. Additionally, one in 10 Nebraskans driving flex fuel vehicles can use higher blends up to E85. B20, a biodiesel blend which ranges from 6% to 20% biodiesel with petroleum diesel, is compatible with all diesel vehicles.

HBIIP significantly increases the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. Since the current program’s 2020 debut, USDA has invested more than $77.8 million in projects expected to increase biofuels sales by 1.2 billion gallons annually. Additionally, the Nebraska Higher Blend Tax Credit Act offers a meaningful tax incentive for retailers offering higher ethanol blends. Retailers can receive a tax credit in the amount of 8 cents per gallon sold of E15 and 8 cents per gallon sold of blends containing 25% ethanol and above for calendar year 2024. The credits in varying amounts last through 2028.

The expansion of biofuel infrastructure broadens the availability of renewable fuels like E15, E85, and B20, which helps Nebraskans save money at the pump while reducing carbon emissions and harmful tailpipe pollution. Expanded use of higher blends of biofuels in Nebraska also supports corn and soybean farmers and contributes billions to the state’s annual GDP.