Minnesota LCFS Supporters Promise to Reintroduce Legislation Next Year
Posted on 06/07/2021
OPIS Biofuels Update - Published June 4, 2021
A bill that would establish a low carbon transportation fuels program in Minnesota appears unlikely to pass this year, but supporters of the measure say they intend to reintroduce the measure in next year's legislative session.
The Future Fuels Act, which was introduced in March by Democratic Rep. Todd Lippert, the assistant majority leader in the Minnesota House, would require a 20% reduction in the average carbon intensity of transportation fuel from a
2018 baseline by the end of 2035.
While the bill received bipartisan support, Senate Republicans blocked the measure after the House Committee on Commerce, Finance and Policy included it in an omnibus budget bill, Lippert said in an OPIS interview.
The legislature adjourned in mid-May without adopting a budget and will return for an emergency session later this month to work on a funding bill. Lippert said he doesn't expect the measure will be part of the budget bill, but is optimistic about the prospects of passing it next year.
"We felt very good about the progress we made on raising the profile on this issue and will be focused on doing a lot of work in the interim," to get the bill passed next session, he said.
While the push to implement a low-carbon fuel standard in the state drew pushback from some Republican members, who believed it would cause too much harm to the oil industry, and progressive Democrats, who were concerned that it too heavily favored first-generation biofuels over more advanced forms of renewable energy and increased use of electric vehicles, Lippert said he hopes to convince both camps that the bill would take a "holistic approach" to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.
"We know that the electrification of the transportation system is on its way,"
Lippert said. "But at the same time, biofuels will play a role in even the most aggressive of net-zero scenarios."
He said he doesn't believe the measure needs to undergo any major changes before being reintroduced to get the necessary votes, adding that, "where the bill is now is what has allowed it to have a very broad coalition."
If passed, Minnesota would join California, Oregon, and Washington, which have in place or are developing low-carbon fuel standards. Other states are also considering implementing low-carbon fuel standard programs, including New York and New Mexico.
Passage of a low-carbon fuel standard bill in Minnesota would also represent the first time such a program has been implemented in the Midwest.
Lippert's bill was based in large part on recommendations published last year by the Midwest Clean Fuels Policy Initiative, a coalition that includes the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and agriculture, environmental, scientific, electric vehicle, and biofuel organizations that support a technology-neutral and market-based approach to decarbonize transportation.
ACE CEO Brian Jennings said it may have been ambitious to expect legislation like the Future Fuels Act to be passed the first time it was introduced, adding that it took the Washington state legislature four years to finally pass its clean fuel standard. Still, he said the Minnesota bill's progress this year "exceeded my expectations."
Brendan Jordan, vice president for transportation and fuels at GPI, agreed, saying that getting the bill through the House within one year "is a great achievement.
"It would certainly be very ambitious to pass something like this in one year, as this is the first time that a clean fuel policy has been introduced" in the Midwest.
Jennings added that, while Minnesota is further along than other states in the region, Illinois and Michigan have shown interest in passing similar legislation.
He said the Minnesota bill is important because it can show that approaches other than those adopted by California can be effective in reducing emissions.
Jennings said his organization doesn't want "the California program to be the only example that Congress or the Biden administration draws from when they get around to writing a clean fuel policy at the federal level."
"It is really designed as a Midwestern policy," Jordan said. "Implementation is going to play out differently in a Midwestern state because we have more in the way of natural resources and more history developing the clean fuels industry."
--Reporting by Patrick Newkumet, firstname.lastname@example.org; editing by Jeff Barber, email@example.com