By Dean Urdahl
State Representative, District 18B
Many of you know of the advantages of ethanol: a homegrown fuel; an important environmental fuel component that keeps our air clean; an unparalleled success story of rural economic development; and a critical factor in decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.
Minnesotans continue to see a rising portion of their household budgets going towards home heating and automotive fuel costs. We need public policies that take decisive action today to prepare for future oil demands.
Thankfully, the Minnesota House took that decisive action last week when we voted to require all gasoline sold in Minnesota to contain 20 percent ethanol by 2013. I was proud to support this bill as it went through the committee process and speak on its behalf on the House floor. Increased use of ethanol is good news for corn growers because it creates a much larger market and more demand for their crops.
Rural Minnesota is the backbone of our state and it always has been. As a people we are obligated to do whatever we can to ensure that our farmers have the ability to succeed well into the future. Ethanol will help give them that ability.
Just how big of a difference are we talking about here with the new ethanol requirement? The requirement will double the amount of ethanol required. But the benefits are not just limited to corn growers. All the people of Minnesota will benefit in the way of cleaner air, more economic development in our small towns, and less dependence of foreign oil. All of these positive results prove the worth of expanding ethanol in Minnesota and nationwide.
Questions arose about ethanol as we moved the bill through the House and I would like to publicly address them here. First, serious questions were posed about the effect of high-content ethanol fuel on lawnmowers, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, etc. We took those concerns very seriously and crafted the bill to allow lower-content fuels to be sold for those engines. There is also a lot of resistance to continuing ethanol subsidies. True, ethanol producers received subsidies in the past and some continue to receive them. But the subsidies are almost up. This new ethanol bill contains absolutely no subsidies. The bill is purely an economic development tool for rural Minnesota.
The 20 percent ethanol “fuel extender” requirement is just as important today as it was when it was first introduced 30 years ago. “E20” as it is often called, is a visionary solution that creates a foundation of economic security and encourages other states to make similar choices to keep our economy strong. But most importantly, it helps avoid what many Minnesotans were forced to endure during the 1970’s: an oil crisis.