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  • Great Plains Institute

Broad coalition supports statewide Minnesota clean fuels standard

A coalition representing automakers, biofuel producers, the electric vehicle (EV) sector, and conservation advocates is endorsing new bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would implement a clean fuels standard statewide in Minnesota.

The 25-member Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition is throwing its support behind the Future Fuels Act, which would direct the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce with developing a rule to implement a clean fuels standard at the state level to achieve a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity for all transportation fuel supplied in the state by the end of 2035.

The lead authors are Minnesota House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader Todd Lippert (DFL) and Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee Chairman David Senjem (R). The bill was discussed at a hearing March 11 in the Minnesota House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Committee.

The Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition, which is facilitated by the Great Plains Institute, has outlined a set of principles and benefits underlying the Future Fuels Act and other efforts in the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels.

“Minnesota is behind schedule in achieving bipartisan transportation greenhouse gas reduction and clean fuel adoption goals and we believe that a clean fuels policy, such as the proposed Future Fuels Act, can help get the state back on track,” said Brendan Jordan, vice president for transportation and fuels at the Great Plains Institute.

While clean fuels policies are in place in several jurisdictions already and statewide legislation is pending this year in New York, New Mexico, and Washington state, this is the first legislative effort to try to implement a statewide clean fuels standard in the Midwest. It is also notable for involving a diverse coalition intent on paving a new path for an all-of-the-above strategy to decarbonize transportation fuels.

The Future Fuels Act requires reductions in transportation greenhouse gas emissions but is technology and fuel neutral and rewards a fuel’s greenhouse gas reduction based on actual performance. It would establish a process for evaluating the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from any transportation fuel and allow transportation fuel providers to compete in offering lower carbon fuels at lower cost.

Clean fuels are defined as any that have a lower carbon intensity than what is required in the standard, which can include electricity for transportation fuel, ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, propane, renewable propane, renewable natural gas, hydrogen, sustainable aviation and others.

The Future Fuels Act establishes criteria for the commissioner to follow in developing the rule, including broad economic development; reliance on domestically-produced fuels; equitable transportation electrification powered primarily with low-carbon and carbon-free power; air quality and public health; state solid waste recycling goals by facilitating credit generation from renewable natural gas produced from organic waste; voluntary efforts led by farmers to improve soil health and water quality in growing low-carbon clean fuel feedstocks; and protecting natural lands and expanding biodiversity.

“The Future Fuels Act is smart legislation that would reduce emissions from transportation fuels in Minnesota, support low-carbon biofuels and renewable electricity, and pave the way for a cleaner transportation future,” said Jeremy Martin, senior scientist and director of fuels policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “By creating the first clean fuels standard in the region, the Future Fuels Act would deliver real benefits to Minnesota residents and provide a model to states around the country.”

Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America, said, “The Future Fuels Act helps to transition Minnesota towards a clean transportation future by providing a regulatory scheme aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel. This policy helps to highlight the cleaner transportation options available to consumers, like electric vehicles.”

The coalition and legislation is “a much-needed complement to the Governor’s Council on Biofuels and other efforts to ensure Minnesota as one of the nation’s leaders in encouraging domestically produced renewable ethanol and other clean transportation fuels that benefit our consumers, farmers and environment,” said Tim Rudnicki, Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association executive director.

Thomas Van Heeke, policy lead for mobility and climate change at General Motors, said, “At GM we recently announced a $27 billion investment in our EV programs, laying the foundation for our aspiration to eliminate tailpipe emissions from our light-duty vehicles by 2035. However, realizing this vision will require investments and commitments from all stakeholders, including a comprehensive public policy framework that helps build the EV market. The Future Fuels Act can be a key part of that framework, creating new funding for EV purchase incentives while spurring investment in EV charging and fleet electrification. It has the potential to be a win-win for the environment and the economy and a model for others to follow.”

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which includes General Motors and other global-leading automakers and their suppliers, is also supporting the measure.

Other members of the Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition supporting the Future Fuels Act include the American Coalition for Ethanol, Amp Americas, Audi of America, BioMass Solution, Center for Energy and Environment, ChargePoint, Christianson & Associates CPA, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, Conservation Minnesota, Farmers Business Network, Fresh Energy, Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, Partnership on Waste and Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, Rivian, Sustainable Farming Corporation, Tesla, The Nature Conservancy, Universal Renewable Products, LLC and Xcel Energy.

The Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition, facilitated by the Great Plains Institute, is a broad coalition of stakeholders working together to implement the Minnesota Future Fuels Act, which is a clean fuels policy tailored to Minnesota. Coalition members include producers and marketers, electric utilities, environmental nonprofits, auto manufacturers, and agriculture and industry groups.

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, the Great Plains Institute works with diverse interests to transform the energy system to benefit the economy and environment.



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