ALBERT LEA, Minn. — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., were at Trail’s Travel Center in Albert Lea with Minnesota and Iowa stakeholders last week to announce that local retailers will receive funds to expand ethanol infrastructure.

The funding is part of the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, and will go to help retailers build out infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol, including E15. Perdue made a stop at a Casey’s location in Ankeny, Iowa, with Sen. Chuck Grassley the day after the Minnesota stop.

USDA will allocate $86 million in ethanol infrastructure through HBIIP nationwide, which will go toward increasing consumer access to "cleaner-burning options at the pump," according to a press release from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Members of the MCGA were at the event in which Perdue made the announcement

Perdue said that Trail Travel Plaza, where the event was held, would be one of the stations across the state that would receive funds to increase its ethanol use. Trail Travel Plaza said it will expand its ethanol use by 6.5 million gallons, which amounts to around 2 million bushels of corn.

Rocky Trail, owner of Trail's, said that the company applied for the funding through the HBIIP and received 100% of what it applied for.

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"Because of support (from the Renewable Fuels Association) in the very near future Trail’s Travel Center, the largest truck stop in the state of Minnesota, will expand even further with the exciting addition of higher blends of ethanol," Trail said.

The HBIIP investment follows a commitment by the Trump administration last year to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and expand the biofuels market. MCGA called it a "major win" for retailers to receive funds through HBIIP for ethanol infrastructure. According to the USDA, ethanol made from corn helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39-43% compared to gasoline.

Minnesotans continue to set record highs in E15 gallons pumped each year, according to MCGA, with more than 350 retailers currently offering E15. The HBIIP investment will mean more pumps with E15 across the state.

“As we see E15 continue to break sales records year after year, it is clear Minnesotans want an option at the pump that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality,” said Tim Waibel, president of the MCGA. “Investing in ethanol infrastructure through HBIIP will make it easier than ever for consumers to find E15, bringing us closer to reaching our environmental goals while supporting an ethanol industry thousands of farmers and rural communities depend on.”