Minnesota: The Bioeconomy’s “Get it Done, Make it Happen State”
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …You see, other states can match Minnesota for its wealth of agricultural and forest resources (though ample they are), or its foundational base in agriculture and energy (via giants like Cargill, CHS and EcoLab) and for its highly-trained workforce (though more skilled they rarely come). But for per-acre yields of moxie and gumption, it would be hard to find a match.
…The state was the first to establish an ethanol and biodiesel mandate (mandating 10 percent ethanol content back in 1997, paving the way for the US Renewable Fuel Standard years later). The first plant to convert from ethanol to biobutanol? Gevo’s project in Luverne. One of the first biomass trading exchanges (MBioEx). One of the first bio-chemical clusters, which has spawned renewable chemical pure-plays like BioAmber and Segetis. Innovative biodiesel technologies like the Mcgyan process.
…It’s worth taking a look at on two levels: first, for a set of innovative policy recommendations. Second, as an excellent look at the kind of innovation that can happen at the state level, as a debate over the role of national governments in fostering new industry takes place in the US this fall via the national election process.
…In May, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law the 2012 Omnibus Agriculture Policy bill, with broad bipartisan support. The bill modernizes statutes covering food safety enforcement, grain trade and renewable fuels. A section of the bill fine-tunes the course of biofuels in Minnesota by extending Minnesota’s E20 mandate for two years and directing agencies to develop recommendations for incorporating biofuels other than ethanol into the mandate. The bill also extends exemptions on the state’s 10 percent biodiesel requirement for three more years, while directing MDA to develop proposals for evaluating the exemptions with an eye toward ending them.
…Minnesota ranks poorly in one category: self-promotion – there’s much that states (and national governments around the world) might usefully glean from a look at how Minnesota organizes itself, but it is hard to imagine Minnesotans sending out the invitations. In speaking with industry leaders during this tour, and in visits past, we’ve come to recognize that its just difficult to hand out the laurel wreaths in Minneapolis – they’d probably just try and process them into specialty chemicals, anyway.
A key to their success – you see it time and again in this report, or any survey of the state’s activities. Coalition, collaboration, joint venture, partnership. At a time when federal-level dollars for R&D or commercialization are harder than ever to come by – it’s a model for aggregation of resources that any jurisdiction might benefit from emulating. READ MORE and MORE (Biobased Digest) Download Roadmap