The State of Minnesota contains no fossil fuel reserves, which means it has no coal, no natural gas and no oil fields. Rather than be envious of our neighbors who have these resources, Minnesota has been quietly moving away from total dependence on petroleum fuels for ground transportation.
As a result, several home-grown industries have emerged, our air is cleaner, and today Minnesota is now an exporter of transportation fuel.Here’s how we did it.
In 1997, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to require a 10 percent ethanol-gasoline blend (E10) be sold statewide. Not only did this help clear up some problems with high carbon monoxide levels in the Twin Cities, it was a small but significant step away from oil and toward cleaner-burning renewable fuels.
The next year, the U.S. Department of Energy selected the Twin Cities as one of three pilot markets for E85, a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline for use in flex fuel vehicles, to see if a successful fueling infrastructure and customer base could be developed. A group of public and private stakeholders joined the effort, and the American Lung Association in Minnesota was chosen to coordinate the effort on behalf of all of the partners.
Minnesotans slowly but steadily became familiar with E85, and the project grew. In 1998, Minnesota had only seven retail E85 stations statewide. Now there are more than 360, more than any other state.
But Minnesota didn’t stop with E85. In 2005, Minnesota became the first state to require all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain a biodiesel blend (currently 5 percent) with a goal of increasing to 20 percent in 2015.
We also have vehicles running on natural gas, propane and electricity on the road in Minnesota, not to mention expanded mass transportation systems that include hybrid-diesel buses, light rail and commuter rail systems.
All of these cleaner alternatives to oil add up. In fact, a national ranking of Clean Cities programs, established by the U.S. Department of Energy to help reduce America's dependence on traditional petroleum fuels, showed that Minnesota’s coalition as the nation's top program, with 135,175,133 cumulative gallons of gasoline displaced from 2005-2009.This content powered by the American Lung Association in Minnesota. Learn more at www.CleanAirChoice.org.