Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Feds Help Fund Biofuel Producers in Texas

A biofuel pump at a gas station in New Zealand. Four Texas companies will receive USDA funds for biofuels production.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced payments for more than one hundred biofuel producers across the country this week.

The payments came from the USDA’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, which funds producers of biofuels made from renewable biomass sources.

Four Texas companies receiving the funding are Agrobiofuels, Green Earth Fuels of Houston, Element markets, and White Energy. White Energy produces ethanol from wheat and grain, and the other companies process animal fats and oil into usable forms of energy.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the payments will “help spur an alternative fuels industry using renewable feedstocks, and help create an economy built to last.” So how much money will the companies be getting, and will it affect food prices?

There will be a a total of $19.4 million given out to the 125 companies in this round, with $1.1 million of that going to the four Texas companies. The lion’s share of that, nearly $750,000, will go to White Energy for ethanol production.

But will it drive up the cost of food? Because many of the funding recipients use waste from animal or food production to make their biofuels, the department says that increased development of biofuels shouldn’t affect food prices.

“Biodiesel is made from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, including recycled cooking oil, agricultural oils such as soybean and canola oil, and animal fats, allowing most biodiesel producers to select from a choice of feedstocks if prices rise or supplies are short,” the department says in a release.

The USDA says that the biofuels industry in the U.S. employs some 400,000 people currently. That number is expected to grow to around a million people over the next ten years.

Olivia Gordon is an intern with KUT News. 


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