The Governor’s Council on Biofuels, earlier this month, set forth some constructive recommendations for attaining at least 25 percent volume ethanol in Minnesota by 2025, stimulating enhanced production efficiency of biofuels and helping to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in the transportation sector. These recommendations, when taken as a package, chart a very positive future for ethanol in Minnesota.
Five key recommendations of the Council, if fully implemented, hold the potential to boost the agriculture sector, significantly increase demand for renewable ethanol over more carbon intensive petroleum and renew Minnesota’s leadership role on ethanol issues.
One of the recommendations calls for making the transition from the standard E10 fuel to E15. Most notable in these recommendations is the realization that many fuel retailers will need some type of financial assistance to properly upgrade their fuel storage and dispensing systems to offer the better emission reduction E15 to Minnesotans. Interestingly, the Council also calls for equipment standards that will enable fuel retailers to offer even E25 at some point in time.
In its wisdom and foresight, the Council also set the course for work on a Clean Fuels Program. Absent action by the Minnesota Legislature in the 2021 session, the recommendation calls for the use of a working group to chart a course of action. If properly constructed, a CFP holds the potential to stimulate further reductions in transportation sector GHG emissions while giving a boost to Minnesota agriculture. Agriculture holds tremendous potential for reducing and sequestering GHG emissions. Therein rests an important tool and economic opportunity for farmers.
While it seems straightforward, there are a number of hurdles to getting E85 and E15 into state fleet vehicles. Council recommendations call for the Governor to use an Executive Order to make biofuels a priority for use in State vehicles. This is where the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association biofuel locator app can of service - rather than paper documents in vehicles, state employees can simply use the app to find the nearest fuel retailer that offers E15 and higher bends.
Most of us know the level of disinformation that surrounds ethanol. Given the challenges on this front, the Council calls for a coordinated communications and education program to provide Minnesotans with the facts about homegrown and produced ethanol and to provided a stable source of funding.
Lastly, the Council calls for increased funding to the bioincentive program. This is a sure path to boosting the production of advanced biofuels and further lowering their carbon intensity thereby making it an even greater value to Minnesotans.
Although the Minnesota ethanol industry is confronted with some short-term challenges due to the Covid-19 crisis, implementation of the Councils recommendations suggest a positive future and some new paths for renewable ethanol in Minnesota to boost the economy and reduce GHG emissions.