By Brian Werner, Executive Director.
Besides perhaps for Prince, if there’s one thing for which our state is known, it is our reputation of being “Minnesota Nice.” You’ve heard this a million times, right? When I introduce myself at out-of-town receptions as a Minnesotan, it’s always one of the first questions I’m asked (often in the Fargo accent). What is MinnesOOOta Nice?
While there are many ways to define this cultural stereotype, most people would say it is a proclivity toward being passive-aggressive, possessing mild-mannerisms, or having the urge to not stand out from the crowd.
All that being true, when I first started working on biofuel and agriculture policy for Minnesota public servants like U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and former U.S. Representative and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, I was surprised to learn the prominent role that our state played in establishing the ethanol industry. Often referred to as the “Minnesota Model,” the ethanol industry’s foundations began here in the Upper Midwest with the dedicated, grassroots efforts of our farmers, and the partnerships they formed with one another and private and public entities.
If kick-starting the homegrown energy renaissance wasn’t enough, Minnesota doubled down on ethanol policy in the subsequent years. To start, we became the first state in the nation to mandate the use of ethanol in our fuel supply. Second, we started selling E15 or Unleaded 88 at Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis in October 2013 and today, in just under ten years, you can find E15/U88 at 422 Minnesota retail locations. Lastly, if you take a flex-fuel vehicle out for a drive around Minnesota this fall, you’ll have access to more E85 fueling locations than anywhere else in the nation.
When it comes to ethanol, Minnesota stands out.
That is why I am honored and excited to assume the role of Executive Director of the Minnesota Biofuels Association. Minnesota has a wonderful story to tell about developing and fostering a homegrown source of transportation fuel that is better for consumers, better for the environment, and better for rural economies. We shouldn’t be shy about telling that story.
But while we should absolutely tout our successes more often, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. As the critical need to decarbonize transportation, reduce dependence on imported oil, and save consumers money at the pump grows, the leadership opportunities for ethanol grow, too.
Minnesota’s leadership on biofuel policy is needed now more than ever. I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen the voice of the Minnesota Biofuels Association and the biofuels industry as a whole to ensure that ethanol’s best days have only just begun.