The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.

On August 3, 2017, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced that the state will implement a new biodiesel standard in May 2018 that will increase the biodiesel blend mandate from 10 percent (B10) to 20 percent (B20) between April and September each year.  Currently under the state’s biodiesel program, diesel fuel sold in Minnesota must contain at least 10 percent biodiesel during the summer months, with the blend lowering to 5 percent from October to March.  While the new mandate doubles the blend requirement during the summer months, the mandate will revert back to 5 percent over the winter months unless state officials and technical experts determine that accepted federal standards deem certain higher blends as suitable for year-round use in Minnesota.
 
Since a large portion of Minnesota’s biodiesel is made from homegrown soybeans, the new standard is expected to add an average of 63 cents to the market price of a bushel of soybeans for Minnesota farmers, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1 million tons next year.  Minnesota’s biodiesel industry is estimated to contribute more than $1.7 billion annually to the economy, with the state’s three biodiesel plants producing a combined 74 million gallons of biodiesel annually.


 

 

The Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota is advocating strongly for two bills in the state that if passed would result in a two-year, $5 million production incentive for producers, and a capital loan equipment program. The bills, HF 536 and SF 517, would benefit companies that develop biochemicals, advanced biofuels, and anaerobic digestion projects. There is concern, however, that the legislation would increase the production of corn rather than encourage the production of crops that do not require the same heavy use of fertilizer as corn. Citing concerns about fertilizer runoffs in the river, combined with corn being an easy source to convert to biofuel, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and Friends of the Mississippi River have suggested amending the bills to: (1) require biofuel refineries receiving the production incentive to have at least 50 percent of their feedstock come from perennials; and (2) pay incentives to farmers who switch from corn to perennials. HF 536 has already been changed to include a 20 percent bonus for the use of perennials over corn. It is likely that both bills will continue to change to reflect continued concerns about water quality in Minnesota.