Biofuels Bill Big Win for Timber Industry

ST. PAUL, MINN – A group of timber, agriculture and environmental experts have all agreed, the legislature’s advanced biofuel incentive program bill is a significant step forward, and will make Minnesota one of the best places in the world to practice and produce biofuels technology. Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) is chief author of the bill that made its final stop in the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Budget Division on Wednesday. The committee laid the bill over for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill.

The bill proposes production incentives for the following three industries:
• Advanced Biofuels: Renewable fuels made from non-food materials such as corn stovers and wood waste.
• Renewable Chemicals: Compounds produced from forestry or agriculture materials that can be used to produce plastics, solvents, cleaning supplies and personal care products.
• Biomass Thermal Energy: Uses materials, such as wood or agriculture residues, to supply sources of commercial or industrial process heat.

Industry experts say the production incentives would open the floodgates for interested companies to start production of various biofuels and chemicals. As an example, this could mean ethanol plants could begin retrofitting their plants to start creating biofuel chemicals. It could also help many companies scale up from current production levels. Experts estimate the incentive program would support about 14 new projects that could have an economic impact of $830 million and could create 3,000 new jobs. It’s the creation of jobs and growth in the timber industry that led Sen. Saxhaug to work on the bill.

“This bill creates a new market for wood and has the promise of really reinvigorating the wood products industry. This is a big deal for the people living in north central Minnesota. A lot of jobs could be created for a declining industry. I’m pleased this bill gained the support of those in the ag industry as well as the Minnesota Environmental Partnership,” said Sen. Saxhaug.

The bill not only supports the forestry industry in the north, but agriculture jobs in southern Minnesota as well as corporate and research jobs in the metro area. To receive the production incentives, eligible facilities have a ten-year period to begin operation. For the advanced biofuel production and biomass thermal production incentives, eligible facilities must source 80 percent of its raw materials from Minnesota. All materials used must be from agricultural or forestry sources of solid waste.

Senator Saxhaug can be reached at Sen.Tom.Saxhaug@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4136.

Senator Tom Saxhaug
Tom Saxhaug represents District 5, which includes portions of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca counties in the northern part of the state. He is a retired insurance agent. Sen. Saxhaug chairs the State Departments and Veterans Budget Division.

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