The Journal

No Author Listed

WINTHROP – Sen. Amy Klobuchar toured Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MN Bio-Fuels) Producer Member, Heartland Corn Products (HCP), in Winthrop on March 27 to discuss her efforts in addressing some of the challenges facing Minnesota’s ethanol industry.

Among those efforts include securing an emergency waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow sales of E15 during the summer months this year. In February, the EPA approved a petition to allow eight midwestern states to sell E15 year-round. The rule, however, won’t go into effect until April 28, 2025.

Klobuchar said she will urge the EPA to issue an emergency waiver for this summer while continuing work on the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, to provide for the permanent nationwide, year-round sale of E15. E15 is commonly labeled as Unleaded 88 at retail locations.

“It was great to stop by Heartland Corn Products in Winthrop to discuss the importance of sustainable fuels with Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association Executive Director, Brian Werner, and Heartland Corn Products CEO, Tom Paitrick. Investing in sustainable fuels like ethanol helps bolster our economy and energy security. I’ll continue working with Minnesota producers and leaders like Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association to push for expanded adoption of these fuels, such as year-round E15,” she said.

In 2023, annual E15 sales reached a new milestone in Minnesota with 127.56 million gallons sold, representing a 21 percent increase from the previous annual record of 105.5 million gallons recorded in 2022 and double the sales from five years ago (60 million gallons sold in 2018). E15 prices were, on average, 16 cents per gallon less than regular 87 octane fuel in 2023.

Werner said Minnesota’s ethanol blend rate, according to the Energy Information Administration, was the highest in the country at 12.71 percent.

“The growth of E15 sales in Minnesota has been remarkable over the last five years, and we appreciate that Sen. Klobuchar took the time to visit our member plant, Heartland Corn Products, to hear directly from ethanol producers about the importance of ensuring that consumers do not lose access to this lower-cost fuel this summer. We thank her for working to find a permanent, nationwide solution that benefits Minnesota’s environment and economy,” he said.

Other participants in the tour included Britt Schwecke, financial and compliance at HCP, Jon Thoreson, HCP board member, Jason Enter, HCP board member, and Thomas Harwood, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel and Board Vice-President of MN Bio-Fuels.

Apart from lifting restrictions on the sale of E15, Klobuchar highlighted her recent efforts in urging the Biden Administration to update the GREET model for the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tax credit program. The administration had missed its deadline of releasing a modified GREET model by March 1.

The tour participants said an updated GREET model that is science-based would enable Minnesota’s farmers and ethanol producers to contribute to the administration’s SAF goals.

The group also noted Klobuchar’s leadership in introducing bills like the Flex Fuel Fairness Act and Adopt GREET Act to ensure an equal playing field for ethanol.

In 2023, according to a study by the University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota’s ethanol industry contributed $2.5 billion to the state’s gross domestic product last year. This resulted in $6.6 billion in economic activity and supported over 20,000 jobs in Minnesota.