WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is boosting the use of biofuels with a new directive to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles.

The USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the federal government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance.

“Both of these actions underscore USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe.”.

The USDA is moving to acquire E85- or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements instead of those that take conventional gasoline. This will occur over time during the normal fleet renewal process. The USDA currently has 37,000 vehicles and replaces approximately 3,000 every year. Perdue is directing the USDA to:

  • Acquire E85 or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements;
  • Use station locator websites and applications to fuel with E15, E85, and biodiesel where available;
  • Prioritize the purchase of E15 for gasoline vehicles without E85 capability and the purchase of renewable diesel blends for diesel vehicles without B20 capability; and
  • For USDA locations that have in-house refueling pumps, coordinate with fuel vendors to acquire and provide biofuel blends, including E15, E85, B20 and higher biodiesel blends, and renewable diesel blends.

These actions have the potential to increase USDA’s annual consumption of E15 by up to 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons.

Additionally, as part of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, the USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).

Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The USDA plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring. 

 “President Trump is fighting for our corn and soybean growers and biofuel producers by finalizing year-round E15, ensuring that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel enters the market in 2020, and opening up new markets abroad,” Perdue said. “USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of homegrown energy.”