MDA report positive for Minnesota's 20 percent ethanol mandate

By | March 27, 2007
According to a report recently prepared by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) Agricultural Marketing Services Division, Minnesota is capable of producing enough ethanol to displace 20 percent of the state's gasoline demand as required by legislation passed in 2005. The production will be ready long before the law is implemented. However, the state must address two specific conditions that will determine whether or not the 20 percent blend mandate will actually be implemented.

According to Ralph Groschen, agriculture marketing specialist for the MDA, Minnesota's proposed plan of initiating E20 as its uniform fuel is contingent on two developments to be evaluated in December 2010. First, the commissioner of agriculture must determine whether 20 percent of gasoline in the state consists of ethanol at that time. In addition to the mandate for virtually all gasoline in the state to be blended with 10 percent ethanol, one way to accomplish this feat would be with the state's leading E85 program. If E85 is able to displace an additional 10 percent of the state's gasoline, then there would be no need to meet the E20 mandate since the task of replacing 20 percent of the gasoline will be done.

If the success of the E85 program hasn't resulted in the replacement of an additional 10 percent of the state's gasoline, then it must be determined whether the Minnesota EPA has granted a 211(f)(4) waiver of the Clean Air Act. The waiver would certify that an E20 fuel blend won't create more emissions and affect gasoline engines with continued use of the higher-blend fuel. These two caveats were being addressed at press time.

In addition, the four-page report outlined that the state is on line to exceed by 2013 the 20 percent goal set by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. According to the report, Minnesota produced 550 million gallons of ethanol from 16 plants in 2006, about 260 million of which was consumed in the state. To meet the requirement, Minnesota would need to produce 564 million gallons of ethanol, only 14 million gallons or a 3 percent increase over last year's production level. Minnesota is on track to add an additional 300 MMgy of ethanol currently under construction or expansion, increasing the state's total production level to 850 MMgy in 2008.

"We're probably past [564] now," Groschen said. "We haven't produced that much in a year necessarily, but our production capacity is more than that."