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Minnesota biofuels council submits recommendations for growing industry

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette

The Minnesota council on biofuels has given Gov. Tim Walz its consensus report on the steps needed to grow Minnesota’s biofuels industry and get the state back on track to meet renewable energy goals.

Walz charged the 15-member council to recommend policies to accelerate achievement of Minnesota’s biofuels and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The group worked over the past nine months to find ways to achieve this to help farmers, rural communities, the natural environment and economically disadvantaged populations.

“I am a long-time supporter of biofuels, because they are good for both our environment and our economy. A strong biofuels industry in Minnesota not only provides good-paying jobs and helps our economy grow, but it also aids in reducing harmful greenhouse gases,” said Walz. “I am grateful for the work of each member of the council, and I look forward to reviewing the full set of recommendations.”

The council’s recommendations include accelerating the state’s move toward 15 percent ethanol content in gasoline, adopting a low carbon fuel standard, increasing biofuels use in the state fleet, increasing public understanding and marketing of biofuels and developing advanced biofuels. 

“Agriculture has a big role to play in helping our state achieve its renewable energy goals,” said Thom Petersen, Minnesota agriculture commissioner. “I want to thank all the council members for helping us figure out how to move Minnesota toward those goals in a way that will be good for producers and consumers.”

Minnesota adopted statutory goals in the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act to replace 30 percent of the state’s petroleum use with biofuels by 2025, but it is not on track to meet those goals, due to a combination of low market prices and changes in federal policy.

“Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Commissioner Petersen convened us to ensure that Minnesota homegrown biofuels play a vital role in Minnesota’s response to the climate challenge,” said Mike Bull, director of policy and external affairs at the Center for Energy and Environment, and a member of the council. “I’m thankful for their leadership and grateful to my fellow council members for our good work together.”

The biofuels industry provides important markets for agricultural commodities and generates an estimated $6.7 billion in annual economic impact.

Members of the council represented the biofuels industry, agricultural and farm groups, the service station industry, the wood products industry and energy as well as environmental organizations.

“Our biofuels council approved the final report today culminating from a year of work among the stakeholders,” said Brian Thalmann, board member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and a member of the council. “It recognizes the value that expanded biofuel use will provide to Minnesota’s citizens and the environment and provides recommendations to accelerate achievement of our petroleum replacement goals. I look forward to engagement by the stakeholders moving forward as we work with state officials in the implementation of these ideas.”

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) facilitated the council’s work.

Find more resources about the council’s goals and view the report on the MDA’s Web site at www.mda.state.mn.us.