A Decade of 10 Percent Ethanol in Minnesota

Legislation went into effect this week 10 years ago.

Ten years ago this week, landmark legislation requiring a 10 percent blend of ethanol in virtually every gallon of gasoline sold in Minnesota went into effect. The milestone was reached amongst virtually no fanfare, something renewable fuels advocates say underscores the incredible success of Minnesota's ground breaking ethanol implementation.

"Filling up with a 10 percent ethanol blend has become so much a part of the fabric of everyday life in Minnesota that hardly anyone even thinks of it. It's become a total non-issue," says Tim Gerlach, vice president of clean fuel and vehicle technology for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

"Back in the 1990s, there were a lot of people, incited by groups whose main concern was to protect oil company interests, who said the sky would fall if we allowed a 10 percent ethanol mandate to become law," says Valerie Jerich, who, as a lobbyist for ethanol supporters in the '90s, took on the dozens of lobbyists assembled by oil interests to thwart the legislation. "They said ethanol would cause vehicles to stall, fuel prices to increase and small engines to blow up. Opponents even tried to stir up the public by saying ethanol would cause jets to fall out of the sky, when they knew perfectly well ethanol was never slated to be blended with jet fuel. Obviously, none of that happened."

Originally, ethanol, an oxygenate was blended into gasoline sold only in the winter months in the Twin Cities metropolitan area as a way to decrease carbon monoxide levels in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards. The program was so successful it was extended to a year-round requirement in the Twin Cities and eventually to a statewide requirement.

Advocates point out that the objections raised by anti-ethanol forces in Minnesota ten years ago are the same canards used today to try to stop gasoline from losing market share in other parts of the country.

"If folks in other states would come to Minnesota, they would see for themselves how none of those dire predictions came true," Gerlach says. "Instead, what has happened is that with the help of ethanol and other tools at our disposal, we're now consistently meeting air quality standards while we're replacing ten percent of fuel that would normally come from outside our borders with cleaner renewable fuel we grow right here in our state."

Source: Minnesota Corn Growers

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