Great news from Iowa on the promise of cellulosic biofuels

by Trevor Russell

On the heels of encouraging progress on our perennial biofuels bill, more great news has come forward on the promise of cellulosic biofuels as a transportation fuel source in the upper Midwest.

The Star Tribune recently reported on the surprising success of the first of three cellulosic biofuel facilities in the Midwest. The Poet, Inc. plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa is designed to convert corn stover (corn stalks, leaves and stems) into fuel. The plant has grown rapidly, and reports it may be near full production capacity by year-end. Our chief legislative priority, the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program, aims to bring such facilities to Minnesota, but with an emphasis on perennial crops and cover crops.

It is vital that any such plants that come to Minnesota use a new model that relies on perennial crops, not just more corn, as feedstock for their facilities. By using a mix of perennial crops and corn stover as biofuel feedstock, these facilities can produce sustainable transportation fuels while creating a market for the very perennial crops Minnesota needs to achieve our clean water, habitat and pollinator goals.

Learn more about perennial biofuels and why they're important for the Mississippi River.

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