Hitting the Road for – and with - Biofuels

  • Thursday, 27 June 2024 13:47

ED Column June 2024

The work of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association – especially during the spring and summer season - often tracks closely with notable events on the calendar: the end of Minnesota’s legislative session in May, the annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop in June, ethanol lobby days in Washington, D.C. in July, and the U.S. Congressional recess and Minnesota Farm Fest in August.

Last week’s summer solstice represents a good time within that calendar of events to look back at the recently adjourned Minnesota legislature and preview what is always a busy Minnesota summer. 

Minnesota Legislative Session 2024

In even-numbered years, the legislature shifts its attention to passing a bonding bill that supports infrastructure projects across the state. Having secured funding in the state budget last year for biofuel-related programs like the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Infrastructure Grant program, MBA’s primary focus was on the consideration of a Clean Transportation Standard. 

We testified before the Senate Transportation Committee on the importance of a technology and fuel neutral standard that would support all low-carbon transportation options and published op-eds stressing the importance of biofuels in meeting emissions reduction targets that would be established in such a standard.

While neither a bonding bill nor a Clean Transportation Standard were ultimately enacted in the closely divided legislature, our efforts proved vital in educating legislators and staff, signaling the importance of rural, agricultural, and biofuel voices, and setting the table for future consideration. 

Pounding the Pavement

Minnesota Bio-Fuels has been pounding the pavement in recent weeks to host guests at producer member facilities, participate in feedstock grower meetings about the pending 45Z tax credit guidance, give presentations at local conferences about opportunities and challenges for ethanol in the energy transition, and promote higher blends like Unleaded 88 to motorists at Twin Cities retailers.

One throughline in all these discussions and activities has been the critical process of analyzing and benchmarking the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels. 

We know that the renewable fuels being produced at Minnesota ethanol plants are already lowering GHG emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles by nearly half. And we also know that with additional technologies and practices like renewable electricity, carbon capture utilization and sequestration, and climate smart agriculture, Minnesota ethanol plants will be net-zero by 2050.

Achieving those goals will require accurate, science-based GHG measurement tools like the Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET model, as well as more up-to-date data on input criteria included in the GREET model like the climate-smart agricultural practices and land use changes due to biofuel demand, both of which are less robust and therefore more difficult to model.

Two recent items underscore that point – 1) USDA’s announcement of a Request for Information (RFI) on the production of biofuel feedstocks using climate-smart practices and 2) a blog post from the Renewable Fuels Association’s CEO, Geoff Cooper, on new research around land-use changes. 

While MN Bio-Fuels has been hitting the road this summer FOR biofuel by educating, promoting, and advocating; most important of all, we’ve been hitting the road WITH biofuel and saving – anecdotally – $0.31 and $0.56 per gallon. 

Kwik Trip Burnsville

Picture Caption: Kwik Trip Burnsville 


Picture Caption: Kwik Trip in Chanhassen

Lastly, with the recent torrential rains and widespread flooding across much of southern Minnesota, the thoughts and concerns of our entire team here at MN Bio-Fuels go out to those who are struggling with flooded fields, wet basements, and damaged infrastructure.