Today, Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) 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. Nationwide, most of the approximately 165 stations which currently have blender pumps are located in the Midwest.
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. Nebraska, a leader in ethanol production, lags behind in fueling stations with only four. South Dakota currently has 49 locations with about 95 blender pumps.
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 American are paying at the pump, and bring us one step closer to energy independence."
"The longer we continue to depend on other countries for the energy which drives our economy, the greater the likelihood of again facing sky-high prices for fuel. The use of alternative fuels will help diversity our nation's fuel supply in an era of global volatility and high demand for energy. I have faith the market will ultimately prevail and our legislation puts the choice in the hands of consumers," Smith said.
The legislation 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 which 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 which 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."