FORT WORTH – Minnesota has long been recognized as a leader in biodiesel, and Wednesday’s announcement that a pair of Minnesotans were honored with the Eye on Biodiesel awards only cemented that notion.
Greater States Advisors and longtime Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) lobbyist Jerry Schoenfeld was awarded the 2015 Eye on Biodiesel award for Influence and Sen. Al Franken was awarded the Impact award at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Fort Worth.
“The biodiesel industry is full of inspiring, innovative pioneers,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “It takes the efforts and visionary leadership of many great people to go from next to nothing in 1993 to the fully commercialized advanced biofuel industry that we are today. I’m proud to recognize some of those tremendous leaders and their efforts.”
Schoenfeld, of Minneapolis, has been instrumental in development, passage and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota since 2000. Without the lobbying expertise and efforts on behalf of the MSGA, the state would not have the favorable biodiesel policies that it does today. Successes include a five year process that led to the first in the nation B2 statewide blend requirement passed in 2002 and implemented in 2005. In 2008, the state passed additional legislation to move to B5, which was implemented in 2009. Minnesota moved to B10 in July 2014, with B20 on track to be implemented in 2018.
Schoenfeld, who attended the National Biodiesel Conference, said he didn’t even know he was nominated and was surprised by the award.
“Well to be honest with you I feel a little sheepish,” Schoenfeld said. “The fact is, it took a lot of people to move this industry forward and I’ve had the opportunity for 15 years to work on that. But I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people. It’s not an award just for myself, but for a whole lot of people who have been involved in this industry.
Appleton, Minn., farmer and MSGA director Ed Hegland, who serves on the NBB’s board of govenors, said Schoenfeld is very deserving of the award.
“Jerry has seen us through since the beginning,” Hegland said. “His tireless efforts have played a significant role in helping to shape biodiesel friendly legislation in Minnesota. It is truly an honor to work with him as he works on behalf of Minnesota soybean farmers and the biodiesel industry.”
Also recognized by the NBB was Sen. Franken, who didn’t attend the ceremony but did reply with a video tribute. Franken has long been a champion for biodiesel in Washington and in particular, took a leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes.
The NBB also recognized Tom Butcher of Brookhaven National Laboratory with the innovation award, Nebraska soybean farmer Greg Anderson with the inspiration award, and the late Dallas Hanks with the Pioneer Award.