Maybe it’s time to rethink our reliance on traditional gasoline in Minnesota

Source: By Lance Klatt, MinnPost • Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2022

Due to United States Supreme Court reversing year-round sales of E15/Unl 88, Minnesota retailers cannot even sell E15 from June 1 through Sept. 15.

A gas pump offering E15 and various other ethanol blends in a photo from 2015.
A gas pump offering E15 and various other ethanol blends in a photo from 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

As the United States continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation is on the rise, and consumers everywhere are looking to stretch their dollars as far as possible.

That’s especially true in fuel markets, where turmoil in Ukraine offers another reminder why U.S. energy security is a pocketbook issue for American families. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help diversify energy supplies, including the use of newer biofuel blends on offer by select retailers in the state of Minnesota.

In fact, the latest state Department of Commerce report shows that Minnesota outpaces every other state – including Iowa – in the sales of higher biofuel blends like Unleaded 88, containing 15 percent homegrown ethanol. Not only does Unleaded 88 offer greater octane, but it also allows drivers to save an extra 15 cents or more per gallon. And while lawmakers in St. Paul cannot control U.S. energy policy, they are actively considering legislation to help make E15 available statewide.

Those efforts would not only protect drivers by diversifying our fuel supply, but they could also support significant economic growth in Greater Minnesota, which is home to 19 ethanol plants. Currently, ethanol supports approximately 22,810 jobs Minnesota jobs and contributes $6.1 billion annually to our state’s economy.

Access to new markets for biofuel blends like E15 would expand that footprint. A recent study from ABF Economics found that statewide E15 would add $313 million in GDP to Minnesota’s economy and generate an added $27 million in tax revenues. Wider access to E15 also would greatly benefit our state’s corn farmers, resulting in demand for an additional 43 million bushels of corn annually.

At the same time, higher biofuel blends are a great option for motorists looking for a simple, affordable way to help reduce emissions. In fact, recent estimates show that statewide sales of E15 would reduce greenhouse emissions by 332,000 metric tons – equivalent to taking more than 72,600 vehicles off Minnesota roads each year.

That’s a win for everyone – from farmers to the environment – and the retail data shows that consumers are excited to make the switch. As Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council Chair Brandon Fast recently noted, “We have known for years that Unleaded 88 and other higher-blend biofuels are better for air quality, boost octane and cost less. It’s gratifying to see consumers responding by making that choice at the pump.”

Due to United States Supreme Court reversing year-round sales of E15/Unl 88, Minnesota retailers cannot even sell E15 from June 1 through Sept. 15. Hoping Governor Tim Walz and members of Congress can assist Minnesota fuel retailers, farmers and consumers this coming summer save money at the pump and sell a homegrown fuel from hometown fuel retailers.

 Lance Klatt is the executive director of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association. He also serves on Gov. Tim Walz’ Council on Biofuels.

|