LE ROY, Ill. (WCIA) — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Sen. Tammy Duckworth announced on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $100 million in grants for blender fuel pumps. This will increase the sale and use of biofuels derived from corn and soybeans.

Vilsack said there would demand for biofuels, despite federal programs to promote electric vehicles.

“Its important to recognize that we are going to continue to have and Detroit is going to continue to make combustion engines. From now until 2035, people are going to keep their trucks and their cars for an extended period of time, so the future of this industry in terms of transportation cars and trucks is still very, very valid,” Vilsack said. “The reality is there is a demand and need for electric vehicles. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive and if you look at the sustainable aviation fuel opportunity, you are going to see an expansion of this industry, so I think we can actually accomplish both. And the bottom line is: both of these, the biofuel and the electric vehicles, are lowering our greenhouse gas in terms of transportation, which is incredibly important for the country and for our climate.”

The federal grants for blender pumps is a new chapter for Illinois Corn Growers, said biofuel specialist Dave Loos.

“We’re looking forward the opportunity of working with the petroleum marketers in Illinois to expand the offerings of E-15, E-85 and hopefully later on E-20 and E-25 to the general public, giving them some more options at the pump,” Loos said. “And you can see the cheaper fuel that we can bring to the marketplace with the higher blends of ethanol.”

Geoff Cooper, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the USDA’s follow-up step should not be overlooked.

“The investment that USDA announced today is a continuation of that commitment they have made to transforming the marketplace to higher level blends, and we know there’s more coming,” Cooper said. “Secretary Vilsack this morning talked about another $500 million in infrastructure funding that is coming after this current round that they announced today, so we are very pleased to see just the level of commitment that this administration and this Congress are making toward biofuels.”