Wednesday, October 3, 2007

10 Years of Cleaner Air and Greater Energy Security in Minnesota

It's been ten years since Minnesota's landmark legislation required virtually all gasoline sold in the state to contain a 10 percent blend of ethanol to help the gasoline burn cleaner and to help build its market for fuel ethanol.

Today state officials and local advocates are calling the ethanol-enriched fuel -- known as E10 -- a huge win for the environment, statewide economic development and for moving Minnesota, a state with no fossil fuel resources of its own, toward energy independence.

In the 10 years since the E10 mandate took effect, Minnesotans have conserved upwards of 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline, enough to replace the entire state fuel supply for one year."In the 1990s, the Twin Cities was designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being in non-attainment for carbon monoxide pollution," said Tim Gerlach, vice president for clean fuel and vehicle technology for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. "Ethanol-blended gasoline was one important tool Minnesotans have used to combat and to eventually come back into attainment."

"As successful as E10 has been, higher blend ethanol fuels such as E85 may provide us greater benefits for reducing tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing petroleum use." Gerlach said. "We need a multi-faceted approach to keeping our air clean and healthy, including wider use of biofuels, mass transit, hybrid-electrics and simply driving and using less."

“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 ten percent ethanol mandate to become law,” said 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.”

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,” said Gerlach. “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.”

For more information on E10, E85 and other ways to reduce air pollution, visit

Source: American Lung Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association

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