With the mid-term elections finally behind us, 2019 is set to usher in a new political landscape in both St Paul and Washington, D.C. For us in the ethanol industry, it will be an opportunity to work with leaders and lawmakers who actually understand the dynamics in rural and urban communities and the role biofuels can play in solving a host of problems.
From the Governor to the state legislature to Minnesota’s two senators and members of congress in Washington, we now have fresh leadership that is more open and willing to work with us to further lower the artificial barriers to the ethanol industry. We are eager to work with these leaders and lawmakers to find pragmatic solutions to tangible problems and thereby unleash the pent-up production and demand potential for ethanol in Minnesota.
We believe Governor-elect Tim Walz will provide a fresh perspective to Minnesota’s ethanol industry. Over the last few years, we have worked with then Rep. Walz and his team to seek solutions to the challenges confronting our industry. Despite the many obstacles, Walz, along with Rep. Peterson and Rep. Emmer and other supporters of the Biofuel Caucus, have led efforts to push back on the oil industry and protect the RFS.
Walz’ experience on the RFS at the federal level also opens the possibility of an energizing approach for the ethanol industry in Minnesota. Indeed, over the years, he met many of the women and men who run our ethanol plants so he has firsthand knowledge about the barriers standing between ethanol producers and air permits and greater access to E15.
With regards to Minnesota’s Petroleum Replacement Promotion Law (which calls for at least 30 percent biofuels in transportation fuel by 2025), Walz told us, prior to the elections, that he plans to work with his commissioners of agriculture, pollution control and commerce to achieve this goal. We look forward to working with him on this, among a significant host of issues, as well as a Plan B for an RVP waiver for E15.
In the Minnesota House, there will be some new and returning representatives in leadership positions. These members, from both parties, have also expressed strong support to meeting the goals of the Minnesota Petroleum Replacement Law as well as funding for E15 storage and dispensing systems.
On the federal level, we can expect a new beginning for the Biofuels Caucus with several new members of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation. These new members went on-the-record in some depth to express their support for the RFS, finding a permanent fix for the RVP problem and funding for additional biofuel infrastructure. It is important to note that some of these new members are from largely urban districts in the Twin Cities metro. In the past, representatives from these districts have not always been supportive of our industry.
All of this points to new possibilities for Minnesota’s ethanol industry at both the state and federal level in 2019. The new alignment of leadership at the Minnesota legislature and in the Minnesota Congressional Delegation presents us with opportunities to unlock the potential of E15 and higher ethanol blends to provide even greater energy independence, economic and environmental benefits to Minnesota.