The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 1, 2014

Changes to renewable standard will hurt economy

From opening our first E15 station, to blending higher amounts of biodiesel, to developing processes to make renewable fuel out of new feed stocks, Minnesota is leading the way and driving the next generation of renewable fuels.

We are utilizing our resources and developing new energy technologies that are creating jobs, increasing domestic energy production, and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

Unfortunately, a recent proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower the biofuel targets for 2014 threatens the progress we have made.

The EPA’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rule would for the first time allow oil companies to blend incrementally less — not more — renewable fuel into the gasoline and diesel supply. It would create a disincentive for fuel retailers to install the blender pumps which are needed to continue to increase our use of biofuels. Without that infrastructure in place, we will never be able to develop the next generation of biofuels.

This comes at the same time when the industry has already been challenged by the uneven playing field created by the fact that oil companies continue to receive billions of dollars in subsidies while the ethanol subsidy has been eliminated.

In Minnesota, the damages would be felt in communities across our state. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture estimates the proposed rule would lead to 1,500 lost jobs and cost the state $600 million in lost economic activity.

The rule change would create uncertainty around a program that has proven to be successful. Because six years into a 15 year policy, the Renewable Fuel Standard is working. It’s the equivalent of a football coach benching the quarterback midway through a winning season. With so much progress, now is not the time for drastic changes.

Our economy is in a better place as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Nationally, the biofuels industry supports over 350,000 jobs. These are jobs that have been grown right here in Minnesota in communities across our state.

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