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Minnesota Biofuels Bill Building Momentum

February 12, 2007

A plan under consideration at the State Capitol is drawing support from a statewide coalition of conservation and environmental groups. Don Arnosti is spokesman for "Clean Energy Minnesota.”

“It would provide incentives for farmers to convert a portion of their land into native, perennial crops, that could be grown for use to convert to energy, either to put into our gas tanks or to burn for power.”

He says the idea is to go beyond corn-based ethanol, and Minnesota is in the right place at the right time to be a national leader in the next generation of biofuels. The plan would offer incentives to farmers to convert marginal land not used for corn into other sources of energy. He calls it a 'win-win deal.'"

"There will be benefits to the farmer taking less productive land and making it a very productive environment for biomass crops like grasses. And, number two, we will receive water quality and wildlife habitat benefits because we will be preventing erosion into our waterways, reducing our use of pesticides and chemicals, and providing quality of wildlife habitat.”

Another advantage, he says, is that would reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil. Plus, it would benefit Minnesota farm communities.

Gary Kubly is Senate author of the bill. He says it’s an attempt to move beyond corn-based fuels because, while they work well, they can only provide a fifth of the nation’s energy needs. And, this initiative makes use of land and vegetation now neglected.

"It seems fairly clear to me that we need another source of raw material. And, we could get about 240 percent more ethanol per acre out of a blend of prairie grasses than we can out of corn. At least, with the current strains of corn that we have on the market.”

"Clean Energy Minnesota" holds a news conference at 10:00 a.m., Rm. 181, at the State Office Building. Members include Union of Concerned Scientists, Izaak Walton League, Clean Water Action Alliance, Fresh Energy, Institute for Ag and Trade Policy, Land Stewardship Project, Minnesota Project and Minnesota Sierra Club. The bills are SF480 and HF 589. For more information on the bill visit

Jim Wishner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - MN