Make the clean fuel standard clean

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Our principles for a clean fuel standard will ensure the standard lives up to its name. (Photo: Minnesota DOT, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations' body for assessing the science related to climate change. In January of 2022, the panel reported that "rapid and far-reaching" changes are needed to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Perhaps that's why, in late 2021, the Walz administration announced a new initiative to explore a so-called "clean fuel standard" for Minnesota.

While a clean fuel standard may hold promise for reducing transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions, it also poses potential risks to our state's water quality, habitat, pollinators and public health by incentivizing further conversion of natural areas to row-crop acreage for the production of corn ethanol (which already consumes 40% of Minnesota's corn crop).

With that in mind, FMR was one of 22 organizations that delivered a letter on January 5 to the Walz administration detailing our position on the state's proposed clean fuel standard rulemaking process.

Necessary principles for a new clean fuel standard

Our letter lays out a series of principles we will insist the state includes in any clean fuel standard proposal brought before the Legislature this session.

In sum, a clean fuel standard should:

  • Set a science-based emissions reduction goal that aligns with IPCC goals
  • Define "clean" to include air, water and habitat
  • Embrace winter-hardy oilseeds as a feedstock for biofuels
  • Protect conservation & forested lands
  • Invest in equitable electrification
  • Evolve over time
  • Include realistic cropland emissions assumptions.

The process and principles should be inclusive, not profit-driven, transparent, equitable, affordable and technology-neutral.

Read our full letter here.

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Check out the full slate of FMR's legislative priorities.

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