Editor's Note

Keep growing in-state demand for higher blends
By Tom Bryan | September 04, 2007
On Aug. 10, just before press time, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled a plan to incrementally take the state's biodiesel requirement from B2 to B20 over the next eight years. We'll have to wait and see what the state's lawmakers have to say about that when Minnesota's 2008 legislative session begins, but it's interesting to see that once again the nation's most progressive biofuels initiatives are coming from the state level.

Minnesota, of course, has been a biofuels trailblazer, establishing a first-in-the-nation B2 mandate in September 2005 and a model ethanol program about a decade earlier. Both programs were initially designed to ensure that the state produced as much ethanol and biodiesel as it could consume at the modest levels of 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Times have changed, of course. Today, Minnesota is not only producing much more ethanol than it consumes, but it is also producing four times as much biodiesel as it needs at the B2 level, with three biodiesel plants producing a combined 63 MMgy.

For the most part, states like Minnesota are pushing biofuels for economic reasons. Biodiesel and ethanol production supports nearly 16,000 jobs in Minnesota and generates close to $4 billion in total economic activity statewide each year. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports that renewable fuels production has led to a 13 percent increase in demand for the state's soybean crop and a 31 percent expansion of in-state soybean processing. Those are big numbers that make a real difference to states that lean heavily on farming and agricultural processing.

No matter your stance on higher biodiesel blends, Pawlenty's plan should be commended for being a responsible approach to increasing biofuels production. In the ethanol industry, we've seen some Corn Belt states produce huge quantities of ethanol for export without mandating E10 within their own borders. So Pawlenty's quest to build in-state demand to absorb growing in-state production is laudable.

Tom Bryan
Editorial Director
[email protected]
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