Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed on Monday, Sept. 27, to double the portion of ethanol sold in every gallon of gasoline in the state, from 10 percent to 20 percent.
The Minnesota legislature must approve the plan, and the governor said he would not have it take effect until at least 50 percent of new vehicles offered for sale in the state included warranties for using fuel with 20 percent ethanol.
Minnesota is the only state that now mandates the use of ethanol in gasoline.
“We want to move Minnesota dramatically and boldly toward the development and use of more ethanol and alternative fuels,” Pawlenty said.
Ethanol is made from corn and mixed with gasoline. Experts have said it burns cleaner than normal gasoline.
Pawlenty said his plan would be a “huge boost'” to Minnesota farmers. ` “I don't have any numbers, but I think we can say in rough terms that it's going to be very significant,” Pawlenty said.
He said that increasing the use of renewable fuels was one way to lessen the country's dependence on foreign oil.
“Frankly, our national energy policy is going to benefit to the extent we can encourage other states to follow our lead,” he said.
About 17 percent of the corn crop is now being used for ethanol, said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson.
“When you look at the opportunities that exist for agriculture in Minnesota, for that matter throughout the United States, to be involved with a renewable energy becomes a win-win situation,'' Hugoson said.
Pawlenty also announced plans to reduce the use of gasoline in state government vehicles by 50 percent by 2015. That would be done by using more alternative fuels, adding hybrid vehicles to the state fleet, and other measures.
The plan would also encourage the sale of hybrid vehicles to the public by allowing those cars to drive in express lanes.