What The Candidates Say : Sen. Al Franken

  • Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:00

With the mid-term elections looming on the horizon, we decided to ask several candidates running for office (or re-election) their thoughts and views on biofuels.  The candidates were selected based on their current committee positions at the federal and state levels.  In the run-up until Nov 4, we will feature their answers right here in Blogging For Biofuels. Kickstarting this series are answers from Sen. Al Franken.

1. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal law which has implications for Minnesota. Do you support or oppose the RFS? What is the basis for your support or opposition to the RFS?

I’m a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuel Standard, because it supports the biofuels industry that’s vital to Minnesota’s economy, particularly rural Minnesota. Right now I’m helping to lead a bipartisan group of Senators pushing back against the EPA’s proposed cuts to the RFS. I’ve taken my opposition to these cuts straight to President Obama himself and members of his Administration, because weakening the RFS would take us in exactly the wrong direction. Recently, I even held a meeting in my office with a key member of the Administration and a group of Senators fighting to preserve the RFS, and I’ll continue to fight for Minnesota jobs and protect the RFS from these wrong-headed cuts.

2. What advantages, or disadvantages, do you think biofuels present for Minnesotans? If you have identified advantages, how would you leverage them to achieve more benefits for the environment and consumers over the next two to four years? If you identified disadvantages associated with biofuels, what, if any, actions would you take to address those disadvantages?

For Minnesota, biofuels are virtually all upside, and we should be encouraging more investment in them, not less. Biofuels are a clean energy source produced right here in America, and more specifically right here in Minnesota. They’re cleaner than oil and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What’s more, the biofuels industry creates and supports good-paying jobs throughout rural Minnesota. And biofuels don’t just benefit rural Minnesotans; ethanol has been shown to have significantly reduced the price Minnesotans pay at the pump, which means that every Minnesotan benefits from supporting a strong biofuels industry. I will continue to remind Minnesotans and officials in Washington of all the advantages the biofuels industry provides in order to continue to encourage investment in biofuels and to protect the RFS from misguided Washington politicians and officials who would try to gut it.

3. What actions would you take, for the medium term, to make E15 the new regular fuel?

Put plainly, we need more blender pumps for E15. Right now Big Oil companies and opponents of ethanol tell us we can’t increase our ethanol use because there aren’t enough pumps, but then they put their thumbs on the scales and discourage the expansion of ethanol infrastructure at gas stations around the country. We need to stop these anticompetitive practices and provide more incentives to expand the ethanol infrastructure around the country. I’ll keep fighting to help the biofuels industry overcome these obstacles so we can expand the use of clean fuels like E15.

4. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your position on biofuels in Minnesota?

As Chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s Energy Subcommittee, I have been, and if I have the honor of being re-elected will continue to be, a strong voice on behalf of Minnesota’s biofuels industry and will continue to support the increased use and development of ethanol, biodiesel, along with other next generation biofuels and bio products. I’ll keep fighting for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, and will keep battling against Big Oil’s attempts to stack the deck against biofuels in the marketplace. I was proud to co-author the energy title of the most recent Farm Bill, which included $900 million for rural energy programs, including millions for bioenergy programs that are so important to Minnesota’s biofuels industry. I am grateful to have had the privilege to work with so many of Minnesota’s biofuels producers, and I hope to have the opportunity to keep working on your behalf for another six years.

Visit Blogging For Biofuels tomorrow to find out where Franken's challenger, Mike McFadden, stands on biofuels.