Minn. bill would allow other biofuels to meet ethanol mandate

By Erin Voegele | April 23, 2013

Pending legislation in Minnesota could alter the state’s ethanol mandate, allowing for the use biofuels under than ethanol to meet the current 10 percent renewable content requirement for gasoline. The measure is included in the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance and Policy Bill, H.F. 976. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed its version of the bill on April 18 by a vote of 69 to 61. An amended version of the bill was passed in the Minnesota Senate on April 22 by a vote of 38 to 27. According to information posted to the Minnesota Legislature website, the bill is now in conference committee.

Current bill text posted to the legislature’s website specifies that the measure would strike ethanol from the wording of state law that requires all gasoline sold or offered in the state of Minnesota to contain at least 10 percent ethanol. The word “ethanol” is replaced by “biofuel.” The bill would also alter the current law by requiring gasoline to include either 10 percent conventional biofuel by volume, or the maximum percent of conventional biofuel by volume authorized in a waiver granted by the U.S. EPA. Alternatively, the bill give obligated parties an alternative option to provide gasoline that contains 10 percent of a biofuel other than conventional biofuel by volume. The non-conventional fuel must be either authorized in a waiver granted by the EPA or be a biofuel formulation registered by the EPA under U.S. Code Title 42, section 7545.

The bill would also alter the tiered petroleum replacement goals for the state, which currently call for 20 percent of liquid fuels to be comprised of renewable sources by Dec. 31, 2015, ramping up to 25 percent by Dec. 31, 2025. Under the pending legislation, the 2015 goal would be set at 14 percent, including to 18 percent in 2017, 25 percent in 2020 and 30 percent in 2025. Under the provisions of the bill, at least a portion of the standard would be met with conventional biofuel until 2025.

In addition, the bill aims to add a subdivision to section 296A.01 of the Minnesota Statutes to define biobutanol as isobutyl alcohol produced by fermenting agriculturally generated organic material that is to be blended with gasoline. The fuel must either future ASTM standards for butanol for blending with gasoline. In the absence of an ASTM standard, the fuel must meet a list of 10 specific requirements described in the bill. Those requirements can be found starting on line 44.7 of the legislation

State Rep. Jeanne Poppe released a statement on the bill on April 18. In the statement, Poppe said the proposal expands the law from requiring only ethanol to a law that requires biofuels generally. “In order to continue to be industry leaders, we need to support the growth of emerging biofuels, while protecting the investments we have made in the ethanol industry,” she said. “This will encourage more companies to consider making investments in Minnesota, building on the strong ethanol foundation already in place and driving economic growth and jobs for middle class families.”