Biofuels in the 2019 Minnesota legislative session

  • Wednesday, 30 January 2019 13:18

ED Column Web

With 1,125 bills introduced thus far in the 2019 Minnesota Legislative session, it can be easy for issues to get lost in the process of making laws. This is where MN Biofuels comes in to do its advocacy work by providing legislative leaders the tools to focus on issues that are important to the ethanol industry and the state.

To keep the focus on lowering barriers for biofuel producers and providing the growing number of motorists greater access to biofuels, we have opened up key discussions with the Governor and some of his cabinet members and state lawmakers. Specifically, our focus this 2019 legislative session will be on advancing four initiatives.

Our first initiative is about securing additional funding for biofuel infrastructure. We are working with legislative leaders to find a pathway to provide financial assistance to some 150 retailers who are keen on offering E15 and higher blends of ethanol.

Our second initiative recognizes the challenges that come with the EPA's approach to providing RVP relief for E15 by this summer. While we remain optimistic that the agency will promulgate some rule, given the recent government shutdown and possibly another one on the horizon, we are working on a backup plan should the EPA fail to lift the RVP ban on E15 this summer.  Such a plan will require close work with the Governor and other stakeholders.

Our third initiative goes to the potential use of E15 and higher ethanol blends by state, county and municipal fleet vehicles. Our focus will be on the Department of Administration and fully using state procurement contracts to make E15 readily available for the aforementioned fleet vehicles. This would be another incremental step in the process of making E15 the new regular fuel across Minneosta.

Lastly, we are working with lawmakers and the Governor to make Minnesota a new and refreshed leader when it comes to biofuels. Toward this end, we are exploring a fleet testing program concept and how we might engage with various state agencies and the University of Minnesota to either add to existing research on 30 percent and 40 percent blends of ethanol or blaze our own trail.

It should be noted that the bedrock principles for our initiatives are found in two important Minnesota laws. One law calls for displacing petroleum with at least 30 percent volume ethanol by 2025 (Governor Walz has signaled strong interest in fulling the aims of the Petroleum Replacement Promotion law). The other law calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to a level at least 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.  Given that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emission in the transportation sector, ethanol is an ideal tool by which to satisfy this policy objective.  

Given the receptivity to the concepts presented by MN Biofuels, we expect the 2019 legislative session to be fast paced and filled with potential to move the ethanol industry closer to fulfilling the Minnesota public policy objectives and more fully and effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.