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Corn Growers Welcome Federal Push for More E-85 Pumps

corn USDA by Doug Wilson.jpg
photo by Doug Wilson
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U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling for more choices at the gas pump.  Today he announced a new program to add 10,000 flex-fuel pumps across the country over the next five years.

Under the plan, federal funds from the Rural Energy for America program will provide financial incentives for gas stations to install pumps that provide gas blended with 85% ethanol - known as E-85. 

“It’s great to see the federal government getting behind putting in infrastructure to handle it,” says Rick Palkowitsh, Chairman of the Market Development Action Team for the advocacy group Colorado Corn, adding that in the past, pushing for infrastructure was left up to states or various organizations.

Palkowitsh says increasing the accessibility of ethanol at the retail level is vital for the industry, but adds it will likely take two to three years before the program is fully implemented. 

The state currently has fewer than 100 E-85 fueling stations.  It’s not clear how many pumps might be added in Colorado under the plan.  The USDA estimates there are about 8 million flex-fuel vehicles on U.S. roads – roughly 3.5%  of all passenger vehicles.

As host of KUNC's Colorado Edition, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. And because life is best when it's a balance of work and play, I love finding stories that highlight culture, music, the outdoors, and anything that makes Colorado such a great place to live.