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Corn Growers Welcome Federal Push for More E-85 Pumps

photo by Doug Wilson
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 the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.