The Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition, a diverse effort representing automakers, electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and charging providers, biofuel producers, and clean energy and conservation advocates, is pushing the Minnesota State Legislature to include funding to develop a legislative recommendation on a clean transportation standard for the 2024 legislative session. The new effort comes after such funding was included in the Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee’s 2024 omnibus proposal introduced March 29, and in a March 16 supplemental budget proposal from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

Coalition members are now urging the funding to also be included in an omnibus bill under consideration this week in the Minnesota House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “Including this recommendation in the Transportation omnibus bill is a crucial next step for the serious consideration of a clean fuels policy in Minnesota,” 30 members of the Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition wrote House Transportation Finance and Policy Chairman Frank Hornstein March 29. “We have a unique opportunity to act now given political momentum in Minnesota and the Midwest and federal investments in clean fuels which will complement the benefits of state action.”

The funding was not included in the House committee’s omnibus proposal unveiled March 29. In a March 30 letter, the coalition members thanked Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Scott Dibble (DFL) for including the funding in his committee’s omnibus plan. A bill introduced this year from Dibble and Representative Jeff Brand (DFL), the Clean Transportation Standard Act, would direct the commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to establish a statewide clean transportation standard requiring a reduction of the carbon intensity of Minnesota’s transportation fuels by at least 25 percent below 2018 levels by 2030, 75 percent by 2040, and 100 percent by 2050.

The Walz Administration’s fiscal year 2024 supplemental budget request includes $250,000 for a “Clean Fuel Standard Economic Impact Study and Working Group” to “study and address information gaps” related to earlier 2021 discussions to develop a statewide standard to reduce harmful emissions from the transportation sector. The administration’s budget recommendation also notably pledges to “identify legislative language for a potential bill as part of the 2024 Legislative Session.” Minnesota has already established itself as a leader in climate and clean energy action with a new statewide law enacted this year requiring 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

“We are also well positioned with the leadership of Governor Walz and Chairman Dibble to build on the diverse, unprecedented support we achieved from this year’s bill and implement the nation’s strongest clean transportation standard into law during this two-year legislative cycle,” said Brendan Jordan, vice president for Transportation and Fuels at the Great Plains Institute, which is facilitating the coalition. “Minnesota is where a national model should be built, where agricultural interests, manufacturers, providers, and environment and conservation leaders are all working together to advance smart transportation policy.”

The effort to establish a clean transportation standard in Minnesota is part of a growing national movement, including bills introduced and considered this year in Illinois and New Mexico. This year’s bicameral bill in Minnesota from Senator Dibble and Representative Brand is more ambitious than previous versions introduced in the state legislature, reflecting both a changing political environment and the recognition of more heightened action needed to combat heat-trapping emissions from the transportation sector. It quickly received support in the Minnesota Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.

It also garnered unprecedented support from outside organizations, including additional environmental protection advocates. Supporters of the bill include top EV and charging infrastructure providers ChargePoint, Tesla, and Rivian; the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which includes global-leading automakers and their suppliers; corn-based ethanol advocates Renewable Fuels Association and American Coalition for Ethanol; Union of Concerned Scientists; Delta; Fresh Energy; and Conservation Minnesota.

“We believe with committed leadership, we can resolve any additional obstacles that have challenged past efforts,” Jordan said. “Complicated policy can take time. We’re confident we have the broad-based coalition needed to achieve it in the best way possible during this two-year state legislative cycle. The climate crisis is getting worse, and we can’t wait.”

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