By Timothy J. Rudnicki, Esq.
The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MBA) serves the ethanol industry by focusing on three key project areas in Minnesota : Fuel Supply Chain (assisting fuel retailers in making the transition to E15), Communications and Education (getting the biofuel message out and empowering consumers) and Advocacy (lowering artificial barriers to the ethanol industry). For this month's column, I will limit it to the latest developments in our work with lawmakers.
Anyone who has kept abreast with the ethanol industry in the last 10 years has probably noticed that there are constant attempts to eviscerate or undermine laws that support the industry such as the RFS and Minnesota's Petroleum Displacement Law.
Both these laws are roadmaps towards a more sustainable energy future. But, as you can imagine, lawmakers and their staff are constantly bombarded with "data" and (mis)information from parties that have a vested interest in eliminating ethanol from our nation's fuel supply. As such, we work with lawmakers to ensure they refer to actual facts and have the most accurate and latest information on ethanol. We also work on a one-on-one basis with lawmakers to provide them with Minnesota-specific data such as ethanol consumption volume, economic impacts, environmental metrics and technological and process improvements within ethanol plants.
From time-to-time, we bring lawmakers and their staff to ethanol plants and provide them with tours so that they can get a better understanding of ethanol production and the industry. This month, for example, we hosted Paula Sunde, the agriculture and energy field representative for Sen. Al Franken, at the Guardian Energy facility in Janesville. During her visit, she had the opportunity to observe the many technological advancements the ethanol industry has made over the years.
For instance, she learned how energy and water use have been dramatically reduced from what they were a decade ago. She also learned how water is reused, wastewater discharge is eliminated, "waste heat" is recaptured and used to preheat process water, and corn oil is derived from the ethanol production process.
Moreover, we gave her the opportunity to meet with the men and women who work at these plants and the far reaching economic impact of the ethanol produced. After all, the renewable ethanol produced at the Guardian Energy facility in Janesville is not only used in Minnesota, but across the nation and overseas.
So, what's ahead?
This is a busy election year and every seat in the House and Senate will be up for election. That means we will be engaging with candidates to inform them about the Minnesota biofuel industry as well as incoming and returning legislators. And we will continue to work with members of Minnesota's congressional delegation to ensure lawmakers have Minnesota-specific information they can use to push back on attempts to alter the biofuel roadmap.
At MBA, we look forward to continuing advocacy efforts that serve to strengthen the biofuel industry. That's because renewable biofuels, such as ethanol from corn starch or other plant material, produced in Minnesota make all of us more energy secure, help save consumers money at the pump, boosts the economy and drives down harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Picture Caption : Jim Slattery, production supervisor at Guardian Energy, Brian Kletscher, CEO at Highwater Ethanol, Paula Sunde, agriculture and energy field representative for Sen. Al Franken and Ben Stover, plant manager at Guardian Energy.