What The Candidates Say : Rep. Jeanne Poppe

  • Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00

Today, we share with you Rep. Jeanne Poppe's views on biofuels. Poppe is currently the committee chair of the agriculture policy committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She is running for re-election for district 27B.

Q. 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?

      A. I support the Renewable Fuel Standard federal law. I sent a letter to my Congressman, Tim Walz, and our US Senators indicating my support and urging them to stay strong in promotion of the RFS. My basis for support is the many benefits we derive from biofuels. We need to find and use alternatives to fossil fuels for the betterment of our environment and our economy.

      Q. Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. 239.7911) calls for the increasing use of biofuels, such as ethanol, over the next 10 years. If you were in a position where you could change the law, would you maintain it as is or modify it?  Please tell us why you would either maintain the law or modify it.

      A. The current law needs to be kept strong and firm. Given the opportunity to modify it, I would consider strengthening it with advanced biofuels that might not yet be fully developed. This past two-year session, I have been pleased to author bills (HF 2456, HF 1584, HF 462) promoting the advancement and expansion of biofuels in Minnesota. One bill I would like to see advance is HF2456 which would appropriate money for a capital equipment loan program and provide incentives for chemical production and biofuels.

      Q. 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?

      A. I definitely see benefits for biofuels in Minnesota. We need to consider alternative fuel sources and using any number of bio-type substances to create energy is a step in the right direction. Minnesota can be on the front of this wave, however, we must take action and educate others with the benefits of this industry. I don't see disadvantages but I know there are detractors who would consider some. Education, promotion, clear evidence of successful projects, clear evidence of positive benefits to the environment will all be necessary to promote biofuels. There are some who see competition within the Ag sector when you when you consider biofuels as not supporting other parts of agriculture. Ag needs to come on board first so those who are not as closely tied to agriculture will also recognize and support biofuels. This shouldn't be about be about competing interests but about comprehensive, full spectrum value-added agriculture.

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

.     A. E15 has to be readily available for all vehicles and in all parts of the state for easy access. Auto companies need to recognize its benefit and promote its use in new vehicles. Having gas stations around the state will allow for its use regularly and dependably. The fear of a car not working has to be squashed. The gas and petroleum industry has a hold on car manufacturers right now and that will be difficult to change and will take more than one state to do it. Collectively bio-fuel producing states will need to gain strength in Congress to push those states who are gas-oriented states. There may be a change individually state by state but the result will just not be as effective.

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

      A. I have been a strong supporter of biofuels in Minnesota. I see the benefits and I recognize the challenges. The advancement of biofuels in Minnesota can come about as its a good confluence between agriculture and environment. Together we can educate and inform about the benefits of biofuels. We can proactively engage business and support industries within the bio-fuels sector. We need to re-introduce HF 2456 and move it forward as it is the new producer incentive program for advancing the chemical and bio-industries.

      Check Blogging For Biofuels tomorrow to read what Poppe's challenger, Dennis Shminke, has to say about biofuels.