Bioeconomy Coalition 2021 Legislative Session Recap

October 8, 2021 | | Policy

The Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota (BCM), convened by the Great Plains Institute, advocated for policy positions during the 2021 state legislative session to grow the state’s bioeconomy along the entire value chain, from research to commercialization. Coalition members advocated for priorities ranging from legislative and regulatory to administrative action.

Funding for Minnesota Bioincentive Program

The BCM’s top priority is to fully fund the Minnesota Bioincentive Program, a performance-based incentive program designed to attract investments in advanced biofuel, biobased chemical, and bioenergy.

In 2019, the program received a budget of $1.5 million, which fell short of the funding requested by seven companies that made investments. After the 2021 session, the program’s funding level nearly doubled, increasing from $2.5 million in 2020 to $4.5 million per year.

However, $10 million is needed to fully fund the bioincentive program, make good on existing state commitments, and continue to attract new investments to the state. The BCM will continue to seek full funding for the program during the upcoming 2022 session.

Funding for biofuel dispensing infrastructure

The coalition also supported the Governor’s Council on Biofuels recommendations. One council recommendation that gained legislative support was a recommendation related to biofuel dispensing infrastructure. The legislature approved $6 million in the biennium’s grant funding for retail stations to upgrade for selling E15.

House passage of Future Fuels Act

The legislature made progress toward passing another recommendation of the Governor’s Council on Biofuels—development of a clean fuels standard—which would put in place a clean fuels policy, the first of its kind in the Midwest. The Future Fuels Act passed the Minnesota House on a bipartisan basis.

Passage of Natural Gas Innovation Act

Another victory for a bill supported by the BCM is the Natural Gas Innovation Act, signed into law by Governor Walz on June 20, 2021.

The act allows regulated natural gas utilities to file an innovation plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for their review and approval. It enables natural gas utilities to invest in innovative resources such as biogas, renewable natural gas, power to hydrogen, power to ammonia, carbon capture and utilization, strategic electrification, district energy, and energy efficiency.

This act becoming law encourages investments in areas of interest to the coalition, such as anaerobic digestion and renewable natural gas. It could ultimately contribute to making Minnesota a destination for bioeconomy innovation.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas, which is another area of focus for the coalition, was the subject of a recent stakeholder engagement process co-convened by GPI. The final report, Decarbonizing Minnesota’s Natural Gas End Uses, identifies 25 recommendations to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas end uses, with support from a broad mix of stakeholders.

Looking ahead to the 2022 legislative session

For the upcoming 2022 legislative session, we anticipate that the BCM will continue to advocate for fully funding the bioincentive program, support the Governor’s Council on Biofuels recommendations like the Future Fuels Act, back the advancement of anaerobic digestion projects, and support the creation of bioenergy markets for wood residuals and insect-infested waste wood.

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