In Minnesota's Third Congressional District, incumbent candidate, Rep. Erik Paulsen, is up against Dean Philips. Paulsen, however, did not respond to our questionnaire and thus is not featured in this spotlight. This district has no ethanol plants but has 40 companies that work with Minnesota's ethanol industry and has 37 fuel retailers that offer higher blends of ethanol at the pump. Here are Philips' answers to our questionnaire:
Dean Philips (D)
Q. The Renewable Fuel Standard calls for the use of increasing amounts of ethanol to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Do you support the Renewable Fuel Standard?
A. Yes, biofuel production centers are pillars of economic strength. They support hundreds of thousands of American jobs; serve as manufacturing hubs in important areas of our state; and they produce clean, affordable fuel. Biofuel saves the average U.S. household about $142 in gasoline expenses annually, according to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. And in 2015 alone, biofuels displaced 527 million barrels of foreign oil.
Q. This year, the EPA has granted RFS waivers to 48 small refiners for the years 2016 and 2017, representing an estimated 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol. Do you support the EPA's actions? If no, will you pressure the EPA and the Trump Administration to halt issuing RFS waivers for 2018 and beyond, to identify the recipients of the 2016 and 2017 waivers and lastly, to reallocate the 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol that were lost due to the 2016 and 2017 waivers?
A. I do not support these secret waivers which have already rolled back blending volumes in our transportation fuel supply to 2013 levels--cutting biofuel consumption by 2.25 billion gallons, increasing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping low cost biofuels away from consumers. Meanwhile, many refiner stocks have tripled in the last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, while more than half of all farms are operating at a loss, and farm incomes are falling to 2006 levels. Refineries like CVR, owned by Carl Icahn, received one of these waivers, potentially while he was serving as an advisor to the President. I would urge EPA and the Administration to put an end to this policy and restore the damage it has already done.
Q. Q. At present, E15 cannot be sold in the summer months since Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations have not kept pace with the addition of E15 into the fuel market. Would you fix this problem by a Congressional Act, similar to how E10 (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline) was handled? Or, would you try to expedite the solution by pushing the White House and EPA to use existing regulatory authority to give E15 the same RVP treatment as E10?
A. I would support pushing for Congressional action as well as Administration action to push for as many choices at the pump for consumers as possible to help lower gas prices.
Q. The number of stations offering E15 in Minnesota has increased exponentially the last two years (nearly 300 at present) and a big reason for this increase was the financial assistance provided by the federal government's Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program for storage and dispensing equipment upgrades. Would you support renewing funding for this program so that even more stations in Minnesota can offer E15?
A. Yes, providing the critical infrastructure and funding to help increase consumer choice at the pump is essential to helping reduce gas prices and drive growth in our local economy.
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