Walz signs executive order establishing biofuels council

By Erin Voegele | September 17, 2019

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order on Sept. 16 establishing a Governor’s Council on Biofuels that will advise the governor and various state agencies on the role of biofuels in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and recommend policy and budget proposals to foster growth in the production and use of biofuels.

“Farmers are the backbone of Minnesota’s economy. But recent action at the federal level has left many Minnesota farmers struggling to make ends meet…That’s why I launched the Governor’s Biofuels Council to support our farmers and renewable fuel producer. Amid uncertainty in Washington, it’s critical that we provide stability at home,” Walz said in a series of tweets Sept. 17.

Within the executive order, Walz notes that Minnesota was an early leader in promoting biofuels production and use. However, the state is not on track to meet its petroleum replacement goals. “In recent years, a combination of low market prices and changes in federal policy has been a headwind to growth in biofuels, particularly in the commercialization of advanced biofuels,” he said in the executive order. “In order to make progress we need ideas for policy and investment in biofuels development and utilization that are bold, practical and broadly supported by a range of interests.”

Under the executive order, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will convene the council and provide staffing and administrative support. The MDA is directed to submit a record to the governor based on the council’s recommendations by Nov. 1, 2020. The council is to consist of 15 members appointed by the governor representing agriculture, the biofuels industry, transportation, environmental and conservation interest, and other relevant stakeholders.

The study and recommendations of the council must include policies that accelerate achievement of the petroleum replacement goals outlined in Minnesota Statues 2018, section 239.7911, which aims that biofuels comprise a minimum of 25 percent gasoline by 2020 and 30 percent by 2025. It also must include policies and programs to advanced and invest in carbon efficiency improvements of biofuels plants and sources of biofuels feedstock, and policies that utilize biofuels to help the state achieve its GHG reduction goals under the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act.

In making recommendations, the council must consider impacts to, and opportunities for, farmers, rural communities, the natural environment, and economically disadvantaged populations at it relates to biofuels production. It must also consider the feasibility and cost of increasing biofuels infrastructure throughout Minnesota.

A full copy of the executive order can be downloaded from Walz’s website.