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What the Candidates Say: Sen. Al Franken, Mike McFadden, Rep. Collin Peterson, etc.

Business News/Analysis, Minnesota, Opinions, Policy
October 30, 2014

(Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association) With the mid-term elections around the corner, we asked several candidates running for office their views on biofuels. The candidates were selected on their current committee positions at the federal and state level. Considering the fact that many of these candidates were at the final stretch of a busy campaign season, not all candidates responded to our questions. But the ones that did have since been featured in our Blogging For Biofuels blog and the links to their responses are under the What The Candidates Say section of this month’s newsletter.

Kickstarting this series are answers from Sen. Al Franken.
1. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal law which has implications for Minnesota. Do you support or oppose the RFS? What is the basis for your support or opposition to the RFS?
I’m a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuel Standard, because it supports the biofuels industry that’s vital to Minnesota’s economy, particularly rural Minnesota. Right now I’m helping to lead a bipartisan group of Senators pushing back against the EPA’s proposed cuts to the RFS. I’ve taken my opposition to these cuts straight to President Obama himself and members of his Administration, because weakening the RFS would take us in exactly the wrong direction. Recently, I even held a meeting in my office with a key member of the Administration and a group of Senators fighting to preserve the RFS, and I’ll continue to fight for Minnesota jobs and protect the RFS from these wrong-headed cuts.
2. What advantages, or disadvantages, do you think biofuels present for Minnesotans? If you have identified advantages, how would you leverage them to achieve more benefits for the environment and consumers over the next two to four years? If you identified disadvantages associated with biofuels, what, if any, actions would you take to address those disadvantages?
For Minnesota, biofuels are virtually all upside, and we should be encouraging more investment in them, not less. Biofuels are a clean energy source produced right here in America, and more specifically right here in Minnesota. They’re cleaner than oil and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What’s more, the biofuels industry creates and supports good-paying jobs throughout rural Minnesota. And biofuels don’t just benefit rural Minnesotans; ethanol has been shown to have significantly reduced the price Minnesotans pay at the pump, which means that every Minnesotan benefits from supporting a strong biofuels industry. I will continue to remind Minnesotans and officials in Washington of all the advantages the biofuels industry provides in order to continue to encourage investment in biofuels and to protect the RFS from misguided Washington politicians and officials who would try to gut it.
3. What actions would you take, for the medium term, to make E15 the new regular fuel?
Put plainly, we need more blender pumps for E15. Right now Big Oil companies and opponents of ethanol tell us we can’t increase our ethanol use because there aren’t enough pumps, but then they put their thumbs on the scales and discourage the expansion of ethanol infrastructure at gas stations around the country. We need to stop these anticompetitive practices and provide more incentives to expand the ethanol infrastructure around the country. I’ll keep fighting to help the biofuels industry overcome these obstacles so we can expand the use of clean fuels like E15.
4. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your position on biofuels in Minnesota?
As Chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s Energy Subcommittee, I have been, and if I have the honor of being re-elected will continue to be, a strong voice on behalf of Minnesota’s biofuels industry and will continue to support the increased use and development of ethanol, biodiesel, along with other next generation biofuels and bio products. I’ll keep fighting for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, and will keep battling against Big Oil’s attempts to stack the deck against biofuels in the marketplace. I was proud to co-author the energy title of the most recent Farm Bill, which included $900 million for rural energy programs, including millions for bioenergy programs that are so important to Minnesota’s biofuels industry. I am grateful to have had the privilege to work with so many of Minnesota’s biofuels producers, and I hope to have the opportunity to keep working on your behalf for another six years.
 
******
In the second part of our What The Candidates Say series, we bring you Mike McFadden’s views on the biofuel industry. McFadden is running against Sen. Al Franken for one of Minnesota’s two U.S. Senate seats.
Q. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a federal law which has implications for Minnesota. Do you support or oppose the RFS? What is your basis for your support or opposition to the RFS?
A. Virtually every source of energy – from coal to hydroelectric, nuclear to wind, solar and geothermal energy – has been benefited from incentives in its early years. The guarantee of biodiesel demand over a specified period of time has reduced the risk of investing in this renewable biofuel and moved significant investment capital into the marketplace. The proposed biofuels reductions that have been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) send signals to investors that could threaten future growth in the industry.
Renewables are an important of Minnesota’s agricultural sector, with biofuels playing a critical role in the state’s economy and communities of rural Minnesota. I support the existence of the RFS. The RFS has been successful at increasing the blends of renewable biofuels, thereby bringing us closer to energy independence and the generation of cleaner fuel.
The impact of government actions on our biofuels industry is of particular interest to Minnesota agriculture. For example, the growth of the biodiesel industry under the RFS has been a valuable part of our state’s economy, supporting 3,726 jobs and generating $606 million in economic activity statewide. Nationwide, biodiesel production has increased from about 25 million gallons in the early 2000s to a record 1.7 billion gallons in 2013.
The EPA’s draft proposal is particularly challenging for biodiesel because excess biodiesel production from record volume of 1.7 billion gallons can be carried over and used for RFS compliance in 2014. As a result, the 1.28 billion gallon proposal could mean an effective market closer to 1 billion gallons.
It is absolutely unaccetable that the EPA has yet to release the biofuel use targets for 2014. It is unacceptable that the Administration has missed the deadline for doing so for ten months and counting. Producers need certainty. But instead of giving biofuel producers the answers that they need to make production and investment decisions, the EPA has missed the deadline for announcing production targets for the last five years in a row. The impacts of this bureaucratic delay can be felt throughout the ethanol and biodiesel industries, affecting prices, demand and investment.
The EPA’s delay shows how broken Washington is. Bureaucrats in Washington do not understand how dragged out timelines and unpredictable requirements affect Minnesota’s farmers and their ability to add value to the products they produce. We must mend the broken regulatory processes of federal agencies like the EPA in order for the RFS to be successful at boosting the use of renewables in our fuel.
Q. What advantages, or disadvatages, do you think biofuels present for Minnesotans? If you have identified advantages, how would you leverage them to acheive more benefits for the environment and consumers over the next two to four years? If you identified disadvantages associated with biofuels, what, if any, actions would you take to address those disadvantages?
A. Ongoing development of renewable fuels continues to be a core issue for the agriculture sector and the state of Minnesota and biofuels offer a number of advantages. Not only do biofuels contribute to energy independence and a cleaner environment, they also allow us to leverage Minnesota’s robust agricultural sector for cleaner energy. Minnesota is thus well-positioned to grow from and thrive on increased use of biofuels. This brings production and jobs here to Minnesota, and contributes to domestic fuel production.
We have the opportunity to be energy independent in this country for the first time since the 1960s, and I strongly support a portfolio of energy production that further that aim. Biofuels have a critically important role to play in promoting energy independence while simultaneously contributing to fuel with lower carbon emissions. Biofuels’ current disadvantages are really opportunities for growth – namely infrastructure needs and distribution bottlenecks, as well as the adoption and utilization of higher blends.
3. What actions would you take, for the medium term, to make E15 the new regular fuel?
A. Many producers are determining that there is profitability in producing E15 fuel. This is an important market. First, I would work to ensure that E15 is subject to fair and competitive market conditions. Oil companies should not be able to illegally restrict the sale of higher blends. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should investigate any anti-competitive practices such as the isolation of higher blends where consumers cannot find them or adding falsely intimidating labelling on ethanol blends at the pump.
Second, higher blends of ethanol such as E15 could become even more viable with lower production costs. The distribution bottlenecks for agricultural products created by railcar shortages drive up the costs of delivering products to market. Last year’s propane shortage not only drove up costs for corn growers, but also worsened the railcar shortgages. These problems can be addressed through a more robust energy infrastructure. I support the construction of pipelines to ensure that propane can be delivered cheaply and readily, to take the pressure off of railcars now carrying crude or propane, and to bring lower cost electricity to biofuel producers.
4. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your position on biofuels in Minnesota?
A. I am a strong supporter of Minnesota biofuels. I will fight for more timely and predictable federal regulation, as well as the continuation of policies which support renewables nationally and in Minnesota. Minnesota’s producers deserve a Senator who will cut through partisan gridlock in Washington to fight for them and address the challenges facing our great state.
READ MORE and MORE

This month, we asked several candidates running for office on Nov 4 their views on biofuels. Click on the candidate’s name below to read their views.
Sen. Al Franken
(U.S.Senate) 

Mike McFadden (U.S. Senate)
Rep. Collin Peterson   (MN 7th Congressional District)
Sharon Sund (MN 3rd Congressional District)

Joe Perske (MN 6th Congressional District) 
Rep. Jeanne Poppe (MN House District 27B)

Dennis Schminke (MN House District 27B)
Rep. Rod Hamilton (MN House District 22B)
Cheryl Avenel – Navarra (MN House District 22B)
Rep. Bob Gunther (MN House 23A)
 

 

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mileage military military policy military reserves military specifications military strategic flexibility military strategy military use of biofuels millennium fruit millet millettia pinnata milo stover mineralization minerals mining Minnesota miscanthus misfueling missile fuel Mississippi Missouri mixed prarie mobile refinery modeling modular molasses mold molybdenum MON (Motor Octane Number) Monaco Mongolia mongongo Montana Montenegro moose morama Moringa tree Morocco morula motorcycles motors MOVES (motor vehicle emissions simulator) modeling system MOVES3 (MOtor Vehicle Emission Simulator model) MOVES2014 Mozambique MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) MTBE (Methyl tert-butyl ether) multi-fuel municipal/city mushroom mushroom substrate mustard seed Myanmar n-butanol n-butene nahar Namibia nano nanocatalysts nanocellulose nanomaterials nano particles naphtha/bionaphtha/renewable naphtha NASCAR National Academies of Science National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) National 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nickel Niger Nigeria nipa sap nitrate leaching nitrates nitrogen Nitrogen fertiliser nitrogen starvation nitrous oxide (N2O) Niue NO2 noodles nopal North Africa North America North Carolina North Dakota Northeast northern catalpa Northern Ireland Northern Territory North Korea Northwest Territories Norway Nova Scotia NOx (nitrogen oxides) noxious weeds nuclear Nunavut nutraceuticals nutrient credit trading nutrient management nutrients nutrition nut shells oak oat hulls oats oat straw Obligated Parties/Point of Obligation (PoO) ocean-based energy Oceania octane octane price/value octanol Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Offices of Inspector Generals offtake agreements Ohio oil oil/gas terminals oil embargo oil exploration oil monopoly oil p oil price parity oil prices oil production oil refineries oil replacement Oils oil sands oil seed oil seed crops oil speculators oil spill oil subsidies oil taxes Oklahoma olefins oligomerization olive cake olive oil olive pits olives olive water Oman Omega-3s on-farm algae production on-farm biodiesel on-farm ethanol production on-farm natural gas production on-farm processing one pound waiver onion waste online courses Ontario OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) open fuel standard open pond opportunity zones optimized flex fuel vehicles orange peel orchard grass orchard prunings Oregon organic solar cells Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) osage orange OSHA Overseas Private Investment Corporation overview overview/survey course oxygen oxygenate ozone Pakistan Palau palm palm biomass palm fatty acid distillate palm fiber palm fronds palm kernel palm kernel oil palm kernel shell palm oil palm oil mill effluent (POME) palm oil prices palm waste Paludiculture/peatland cultivation Panama pandas panic grass papaya paper Papua Indonesia Papua New Guinea paraffins Paraguay Paris 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methyl ester) RME180 RNA (Ribonucleic acid) roadmap rocket fuel Romania RON (Research Octane Number) rotation crops royalties RTP (rapid thermal processing) rubber rumen ruminants rural development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program Russia Russian olive rutabaga Rwanda ry rye Rye grass s saccharification Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles (SAFE) safety safflower sago pond weed SAIC SAK Salicornia salt-tolerant saltbush saltcedar sal tree salt water Sanctions Santa Monica sardine oil Saskatchewan Saudi Arabia sawdust scale up Scandinavia scholarships/fellowships Science Advisory Board (SAB) Science Policy scooters Scotland scum sea level rise seaports seashore mallow seawater Seaweed/Macroalgae seaweed cultivation Section 526 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seed-to-wheel seed husks Senegal Serbia sesame sewage Seychelles shale shale gas shale oil shark oil sheep shipping shipping containers shipworm Sierra Leone silica Silphie/cup plant/Indian cup silver silver maple simarouba Singapore sisal SK slash Slovakia Slovakia/Slovak Republic Slovenia sludge Small Business Administration small engines small refinery exemption (SRE) smog smokestack soap Social social benefit investing social cost social value social venture Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) soi soil soil amendments soil carbon soil health soil microbial biomass solar energy solar energy-to-chemical conversion solaris solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) Solomon Islands Solutions solvent liquefaction Somalia soot sorghum sorghum oil sorghum stover South Africa South America South Australia South Carolina South Dakota Southeast Asia Southern Africa South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Soviet Union SOx (Sulfur oxides) soybean prices soybeans soy meal Spain spartina specifications Spent Bleaching Earth Oil (SBEO) sprawl spruce Sri Lanka Stakeholders standards start-up State Department Statistics steam explosion steam methane reformation steam reformation steel stevia stillage storage tanks Straight (pure) Vegetable Oil (SVO or PVO) stranded assets Strategic Bioenergy Reserve STrategiv Petroleum Reserve straw students su sub-Saharan Africa sub-sim (substantially similar) subsid succinic acid sucrose Sudan sugar sugar-to-biodiesel sugar-to-farnesane sugar-to-jetfuel Sugar Beets/Energy Beets sugarcane sugarcane prices sugarcane straw Sugar kelp sugar palm sugar platform sugar prices sugars sugars-to-fats sugar standards sulfur Sumatra sunflower sunflower stalks supercritical fluid supercritical hydrolysis supply agreements supply chain Supreme Court surahart Suriname Sustainability Swaziland Sweden sweetgum sweet potatoes Sweet sorghum swine waste Switchgrass Switzerland sycamore syngas syngas/gas fermentation synthetic biology synthetic diesel synthetic gasoline synthetic kerosene synthetic liquified gas (SLG) synthetic methane/e-methane synthetic natural gas Syria Tailoring Rule 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