MN farmers promote biofuels during D.C. meetings 

Minnesota soybean farmers took to the nation’s capital in late June to educate lawmakers about the important role of biofuels as a present and future answer to lowering emissions and cutting carbon as part of Clean Fuels Alliance America’s (Clean Fuels) Membership Meeting June 24-26 in Washington D.C. During the visit, Clean Fuels leaders provided updates on biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel industry and took to Capitol Hill to promote their industry.  

Representing Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), which has been a member of Clean Fuels since 2012, were a pair of Brewster, Minn., farmers: Chris Hill and Ron Obermoller. Hill represents MSR&PC on the Clean Fuels Board and Obermoller represents District 7 for MSR&PC and also serves on the board for the Minnesota Soy Processors. Also in attendance was MSR&PC Sr. Director of Product Development and Commercialization Mike Youngerberg, one of the nation’s leading experts on biodiesel.  

A big moment during the meeting was the announcement by Clean Fuels that it’s filed a formal petition against the EPA asking them to reconsider Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2024 and 2025. According to Clean Fuels, the EPA set biomass-based diesel (BBD) and overall advanced volumes far below actual production of the fuels. The volume levels, which were set last summer, were roughly one-third of what the industry advocates recommended to the agency. The low volumes have discouraged production, sacrificing greenhouse gas emission reductions and undercutting the economic benefits intended under the program.  

“As the agency set the RFS rule last year, Clean Fuels asked EPA to support achievable growth in biomass-based diesel of 500 million gallons a year. That request was very conservative, since the industry’s achieved growth of 4.6 billion gallons is significantly higher,” said Kurt Kovarik, Clean Fuels’ vice president of federal affairs. “We warned EPA that the ‘no growth’ rule they set would undercut investments, economic opportunities for our industry and environmental benefits. Unfortunately, we’re seeing those consequences now.” 

Another highlight of the Clean Fuels membership meeting was a keynote address from USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack, who spoke for almost an hour on issues impacting agriculture. 

“Secretary Vilsack understands how important agriculture is to our rural economy,” Hill said. “He stands with us in understanding the important role that biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel plays in supporting our farmers.” 

Vilsack announced that the USDA is seeking information from the public on procedures for quantifying reporting, and verifying the effect of climate-smart farming practices on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with U.S.-grown biofuel feedstock crops.  

“By creating opportunities for biofuels policies to reflect climate-smart farming practices, we are enabling new markets for American producers and incentivizing more greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” Sec. Vilsack said. “This request for information lays the foundation for policies that would bring economic benefits to rural and farm communities while also helping in the fight against climate change.” 

Learn more about the Request for Information here. 

On Capitol Hill, Minnesota had productive conversations with legislators, including Reps. Brad Finstad, Tom Emmer and Michelle Fischbach.  

“We are lucky here in Minnesota to have such great support for agriculture and have strong representation on the Ag Committee,” said Hill. “We were also pleased to see a letter of support from Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith urging the EPA to raise the RFS volumes for biodiesel.”  

The main topics discussed with the legislators included the EPA petition, the other potential uses for Clean Fuels, such as the cargo ships that use the Port of Duluth and the guidelines for the new 45Z Clean Fuel Production Credit, which Obermoller said takes a one-size-fits-all approach.  

“In order to qualify for the credit, they say we need to plant cover crops, we need to have to no-till and we have to cut fertilizer,” Obermoller said. “All those things are hard to do here in Minnesota.”  

During the meeting, Clean Fuels announced the addition of two new members: Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and Union Pacific. The two railway companies will play a role in Clean Fuels by potentially becoming large customers and shippers of biodiesel and renewable diesel. 

Learn more about Clean Fuels Alliance American at www.cleanfuels.org.  

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