Land of 10,000 Ethanol Pumps

Bill would require Minn. stations to offer only gas with 20% ethanol by 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- More ethanol would flow through Minnesota gas pumps under a deal reached Monday by state House and Senate negotiators, reported The Forum.

The two chambers passed different versions of the bill. Ethanol supporters expect the compromise to sail through both houses, said the report.

A House-Senate conference committee agreed to require Minnesota gas stations to pump only gasoline with 20% ethanol on Aug. 30, 2013, if ethanol and the similar plant-based biodiesel do not already account for 20% of motor vehicle [image-nocss] fuel sales.

If a separate bill senators debated Monday is enacted, more 85% ethanol will be available to Minnesotans. If enough E-85 is sold, the 20% mandate would not be needed, the report said.

The conference committee approved a provision restricting lawsuits against business that sell ethanol, added the newspaper. It also requires a report from the state commerce and agriculture commissioners about how gasoline blended with 20% ethanol would affect small engines such as those in motorcycles and lawn mowers.

The conference committee deal puts Minnesota on track to become an even stronger leader in ethanol, said the report. Other Midwestern legislators are talking about mandating ethanol use, while Minnesota has mandated for a decade that gasoline contain 10% ethanol, it said.

I was here when we put the first [ethanol mandate] together; when all the motors were going to fall apart, said State Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL).

But few argued against 20% ethanol during legislative debate in recent weeks. State Representative Al Juhnke (DFL), said one reason ethanol is selling well this year is price. He said he filled his vehicle with an 85% ethanol blend Monday morning for $1.49 a gallon, 60 cents less than regular gasoline.

This is going to be the fuel of choice, rapidly, in the future, Juhnke added.

With this bill, the rural economy wins; in fact, the whole state economy wins, said State Rep. Greg Davids (R).

If the House and Senate pass the compromise as expected, the state will begin to monitor how much ethanol and biodieselusually made from soybeans and blended with diesel fuelare sold, said the report. If that reaches 20% of total sales, gasoline retailers will not be required to sell a 20% ethanol blend, it said.

State Sen. Dallas Sams (DFL) said the federal government must approve 20% ethanol use before the state can mandate it, the report concluded.