Feb 10, 2021
[ST. PAUL, MN]— As Chair of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition, Governor Tim Walz today urged President Joe Biden to support the biofuels industry, combat climate change, and invest in rural economies by reversing the previous Administration's actions that supported oil refineries at the expense of the ethanol industry, a cornerstone of many Midwestern economies.
"Over the years, we have seen firsthand how the ethanol industry has transformed and revived rural communities and contributed to the fight against climate change," said Governor Walz. "Today, those communities, along with the ethanol industry, are endangered. These proposed executive actions would provide much needed stability in rural America and provide countless benefits to all Americans."
"Action by the federal government on aromatics and the Renewable Fuel Standard would complement and leverage our efforts in Minnesota to replace petroleum transportation fuels and reduce carbon emissions through biofuels,"said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.
Governor Walz urged President Biden to issue an Executive Order enforcing the Clean Air Act by replacing the use of aromatics in gasoline with cleaner alternatives. Reducing aromatics would lessen the risk of respiratory diseases and eliminate gasoline's most carbon intensive component. He also encouraged the Biden Administration to adopt new Renewable Fuel Standard regulations that would prevent billion-dollar companies from edging out the biofuels industry.
Governor Walz also encouraged President Biden to support the effort led by Senator Klobuchar and Senator Ernst to create a renewable fuel infrastructure grant program and to streamline underground storage tank regulations. Their plan would smooth the path to higher biofuel blends and amplify the impact of the executive actions outlined in the Governor's letter.
Full text of the letter is below.
Dear President Biden:
Please accept my congratulations on your election as the 46th President of the United States. I write to you today as the Governor of Minnesota and as the chair of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition. For over two decades, this bipartisan coalition has worked together to advance biofuels, agriculture, and environmental policy with a unified message from the nation's governors. We look forward to working with you and Vice President Harris on a range of issues important to all Americans.
It is clear that we collectively face unprecedented and complex challenges that will require considerable ingenuity and determination to solve. One of those challenges is climate change. I know you are committed to reengaging the federal government in policies and programs to make progress in this area and that you are dedicated to partnering with states in that effort. I look forward to such a partnership.
As you begin your critical work to address climate change and promote economic opportunity, I encourage you to work with states on making biofuels a key component of addressing transportation sector emissions. Biofuels are especially important in the near term as we begin the necessary transition into a carbon-neutral transportation sector. And they provide significant opportunity for economic growth and investment across rural America.
Two key administrative actions will help ensure the future of the states' biofuels community, which is now threatened by trade wars, a litigious petroleum industry, and shrinking demand caused by the pandemic. Swift support for this endangered industry is crucial, which is why I urge you to take the following actions to support biofuels in the years ahead.
Issue an Executive Order Banning the Use of Aromatics in Gasoline
To benefit public health, the environment, and the biofuels industry, I urge you to consider executive action directing the enforcement of the Clean Air Act's aromatics provision. That provision, which has been largely unenforced for decades, requires the reduction of toxic gasoline aromatics, replaced with cleaner octane additives.
Reducing aromatics would lessen the fine particulate emissions associated with respiratory diseases. Enforcement of the aromatics provision would also create well-paying jobs and eliminate gasoline's most carbon intensive component. This order would expand the market for ethanol by a projected twofold increase, a key to our collective efforts to revitalize jobs and encourage economic growth in rural America.
Adopt New Renewable Fuel Standard Regulations
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is one of Congress's most significant energy policy accomplishments. However, the RFS's waiver provision has been used by billion-dollar companies to obtain inappropriate blending waivers that have severely damaged the nation's biofuels industry. The most harmful abuse—the manipulation of the RFS's small refinery exemption—is but one of several ways the regulations have been distorted to keep the RFS from meeting its full potential. I would welcome an opportunity to work with you and your Administration on RFS regulations to ensure that they create the positive impact that was intended.
Over the years, I have seen firsthand how the ethanol industry has transformed and revived rural communities and contributed to the fight against climate change. Today, those communities, along with the ethanol industry, are endangered. These proposed executive actions would provide much needed stability in rural America and provide countless benefits to all Americans.
As you consider these actions, I also encourage you to support the effort led by Senator Klobuchar and Senator Ernst to create a renewable fuel infrastructure grant program and to streamline underground storage tank regulations. Their plan would smooth the path to higher biofuel blends and amplify the impact of the executive actions outlined in this letter.
Tim Walz, Chair
and Governor of Minnesota
Read the original press release here.