Minnesota increases its ethanol usage

By Kris Bevill | July 15, 2010
Posted Aug. 2, 2010

Minnesota increased the amount of E85 used in state vehicles by more than 86,000 gallons in the first two quarters of 2010 compared to the same time period last year, according to information released by the American Lung Association of Minnesota. State agencies used 437,063 gallons of E85 to fuel the approximate 2,500 flex-fuel vehicles in their fleets during the first six months of the year. While the total is significantly higher than last year's 350,518 gallons, it pales in comparison to the use of "regular" gasoline by state fleets. Approximately 2.2 million gallons of gasoline were used in state vehicles in the first two quarters this year, representing an 83.4 percent share of the fuel used in state fleets.

"While we are making progress toward the governor's goal, there is room for increasing the use of E85," Tim Morse, chair of the SmartFleet Committee, said in a memo. The committee assists state agencies in complying with a 2004 executive order issued by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, requiring state fleets to increase their use of renewable fuels, including ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen from agricultural products.

"This continued progress shows that the state of Minnesota is serious about its stated goal to reduce its petroleum consumption," said Kelly Marczak, director for the Minnesota American Lung Association's clean fuel and vehicle technologies program. "In just six months, the state's use of E85 in 2010 prevented more than 1,745 tons of lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions and harmful pollutants from entering our air."

The availability of E85 stations has an immediate impact on the amount of E85 used in state vehicles, as the executive order calls for state fleets to use biofuels "where feasible." There are currently more than 355 E85 stations in Minnesota. Most recently, a Holiday station in Burnsville began offering E85 at the end of July, bringing the total of E85 stations located within the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area to 80.

Minnesota American Lung Association spokesman Bob Moffitt said the association continues to support the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel because it is cleaner burning than gasoline. "We have worked closely with public and private partners to ensure that E85 is available statewide, as well as in the metro area," he said. "The opening of the Burnsville station closes one of the few gaps we have left in the metro, so almost anyone can find E85 fuel in Minnesota."