U.S. Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin introduced the Consumer Fuels Choice Act of 2010. The legislation would increase the use of clean renewable biofuels by providing grants to defray the cost of installing blender pump infrastructure. A "blender pump" is a fuel pump capable of dispensing at least three different blends of gasoline and ethanol, as selected by the pump operator. The spread of blender pumps around the country would allow a much larger group of consumers to choose varying blends of ethanol and gasoline for their vehicles.
Specifically, the Consumer Fuels Choice Act will authorize grants of 50 percent of the cost of installing blender pumps and storage tanks for the sale of ethanol fuel blends, including E-85 fuel.
Herseth Sandlin said, "It's more important than ever that we diversify our fuel sources. South Dakota is already leading the way when it comes to the production and use of renewable biofuels, and producers across rural America stand ready to continue to help move our country away from a dependence on foreign oil. By providing grants for the installation of blender pumps we can begin to cut down on the prices Americans are paying at the pump, and bring us one step closer to energy independence."
South Dakota currently has 49 locations with about 95 blender pumps. Under the recent South Dakota Ethanol Blender Pump Incentive Grant Program, the state used funds allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to add 100 pumps to 42 locations bringing the total to 91 locations and almost 200 pumps. Herseth Sandlin's bill would create valuable incentives for installing even more blender pumps, helping to make renewable biofuels more available throughout the country.
Herseth Sandlin's bill comes just days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a 21-page report entitled "A USDA Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard by 2022." The report identifies the region of the United States that includes South Dakota and Nebraska as "one of two regions with the most potential for near and long term development of biofuels." The report is part of USDA's efforts to foster a national strategy focused on various regions in the country that seeks to eliminate obstacles to the full development of biofuels markets. These obstacles include the lack of adequate blender pump infrastructure to dispense biofuels. As noted in the report, "For retail sales, the installation of blender pumps will be necessary at the retail level to provide outlet of the product to the consumer." This legislation will go a long way toward achieving that goal of consumer choice.
Nationwide, most of the approximately 165 stations that currently have blender pumps are located in the Midwest. With a number of sites adding dispensers this summer, that total will increase to more than 200 locations and 500 pumps.