Minnesota, the first state in the U.S. to require a minimum E10 fuel blend in 1997, could once again be a national leader in biofuel policy, as legislators in St. Paul consider shifting the state’s fuel standard to E15.
Chris Hanson, general manager of Poet’s biorefinery in Preston, Minn., appeared Feb. 17, on behalf of the Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association, at the state Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee in support of the new standard. Hanson, who recently served on the Governor’s Council on Biofuels, highlighted the positive impacts E15 will have on the state’s economy and environment, including the many long-term benefits for Minnesota consumers and family farmers.
“Not only can E15 protect consumers from unpredictable spikes in the price of foreign oil, it can help free farmers from uncertain assistance from Washington,” Hanson told lawmakers. “Predictable demand growth for E15 would also support thousands of good-paying bio-manufacturing jobs; attract new capital investment for plant construction, improvements and equipment; and generate additional tax revenues in rural communities across our state.”
The bioethanol industry is an economic engine for the state, supporting nearly 19,000 full-time green jobs and generating more than $1.5 billion in income for Minnesota households. Production of bioethanol and coproducts also drives demand and stabilizes grain prices for family farms across Minnesota.
State Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who chaired the committee hearing, sponsored the bill, SF 944.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association has made this proposal its top legislative priority in 2021.
“Higher blends of ethanol in our fuel supply benefit not only corn farmers and our rural communities, but all Minnesotans,” MCGA President Tim Waibel said. “E15 provides consumers with a higher-octane fuel at a lower price, all while significantly reducing tailpipe emissions.”
Minnesota Farmers Union also expressed support for Senate bill. “We know that biofuels have bipartisan support in both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature, as well as the support of Gov. Tim Walz,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “On behalf of our members, I encourage the Legislature to pass SF 944.”
Minnesota, Iowa may unite in move to E15
Minnesota joins Iowa, which recently introduced legislation, in considering a statewide switch to E15. The two states could set a powerful precedent for other Midwest biofuel-producing states.
Last year, the Governor’s Council on Biofuels recommended that Minnesota shift to E15 as “a near-term policy priority to accelerate progress toward the petroleum replacement goal of 25% biofuel use in gasoline by 2030.”
Poet founder and CEO Jeff Broin commended Minnesota’s governor and Legislature for the state’s continued leadership on homegrown biofuels.
“We applaud Minnesota’s leaders for taking bipartisan action on E15,” Broin said. “Statewide E15 would boost farm incomes across Minnesota, growing a dependable market for grain and supporting the state’s green economy, while having a significant impact on climate change.”
Poet, a biorefinery based in Sioux Falls, S.D., operates 27 facilities across seven states. At full run rates, Poet purchases 5% of U.S. corn and produces 2 billion gallons of ethanol, 10 billion pounds of distillers dried grains and 600 million pounds of corn oil annually.