Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics

Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

When it comes to electric vehicles, Walz is on wrong side of the rural road

Biofuels cut carbon emissions, and are doing so right now.

This mandate will fundamentally distort the marketplace and erect artificial incentives for electric vehicles to compete unfairly against vehicles that run on ethanol and biodiesel.
This mandate will fundamentally distort the marketplace and erect artificial incentives for electric vehicles to compete unfairly against vehicles that run on ethanol and biodiesel.
REUTERS/Mike Blake

Like all states in the U.S., Minnesota is one of a kind. No other state has the same demographics or needs as we do. The most important basis for helping us to prosper is understanding this simple fact. Unfortunately, we seem to have a governor who does not understand this.

One of Minnesota’s main sources of revenue is farming, specifically corn and soybeans.  Minnesota is home to three biodiesel plants, and the country’s first biodiesel mandate. Minnesota is the fourth-largest ethanol producer in the country, and currently has an E10 mandate for gasoline sold in the state. Minnesota implemented these biofuel mandates as a way to boost rural economies and add much-needed tax base to our rural towns and school districts. These mandates have also worked to clean Minnesota’s air. Since their implementation, Minnesota has reached clean air attainment.

Given these facts, Gov. Tim Walz’s push for an electric vehicles mandate, otherwise known as “Clean Cars Minnesota,” is unwarranted. And this mandate will fundamentally distort the marketplace and erect artificial incentives for electric vehicles to compete unfairly against vehicles that run on ethanol and biodiesel. This mandate will tip the scales against farmers like me who produce corn and soybeans for ethanol and biodiesel.

As a representative in the U.S. House, Walz was known as a champion and supporter of biofuels. In a recent letter to Biden administration officials, Walz wrote that, “Despite consumer trends toward hybrid and electric vehicles, the reality is that Americans will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades to come.” He further noted, “we have seen firsthand how the ethanol industry has transformed and revived rural communities while reducing harmful emissions.”

Article continues after advertisement

However, as governor, Walz has pushed through a mandate to dictate the sale of EVs in our state and stood by idly while the Minnesota House and Senate failed to pass legislation to help boost biofuel sales through an E15 mandate. Unlike our neighbor to the south, Iowa, where snowplows and other state trucks are using blends of biodiesel up to 100%, the Walz administration hasn’t pushed increased use of our locally grown, plant-based fuels in Minnesota.

Lawrence Sukalski
Lawrence Sukalski
We hear repeatedly that part of the push for electric vehicles is the need to reduce carbon emissions. We need only look to California to see that relying on electric vehicles is an ineffective option if that is the goal. In California, where they have had these rules in place for years now, adoption of electric vehicles makes up a tiny fraction of their carbon reduction goals.  The real workhorse of California’s carbon reduction strategies has been biofuels. Biofuels cut carbon emissions, and are doing so right now. Plus, Minnesota already has the infrastructure for liquid fuels in place. Through biofuels we can cut carbon and help our rural economies without delay. Looking at the time value of carbon, cutting tons of emissions today with the use of biofuels is much more effective and beneficial than waiting for or trying to force adoption of electric vehicles.

Five generations of my family, including myself, have grown corn and soybeans in the Minnesota soil, so I know what it takes to be a successful producer. We need access to affordable, reliable power and equipment. At this time of year when I need the repair truck out to fix a broken combine, I need it now, not 30 minutes from now when it’s done charging. In a December snowstorm when our state’s cattlemen and women are driving feed to animals they need their vehicle operating at 100%, not with a 40% decrease because of the cold. The Agricultural Retailers Association estimated there would be a $27 million decrease in U.S. net farm income by 2050 due to a ban on internal combustion-powered vehicles. Biofuels add real dollars to our rural communities. Biofuels add to our school district tax bases and have worked to keep our rural communities alive and vibrant. If you want to cut carbon, they do that today, not 10 years from now when the infrastructure and vehicles are ready.

To be clear, no one is saying that electric vehicles are bad. They are just not the best option for Minnesota if we want to keep our rural communities thriving. As Walz himself stated, farmers will rely on liquid fuels for decades to come. We should lead on carbon-cutting fuel usage while helping our rural communities like we have been for decades.

We need our governor to recognize Minnesota’s uniqueness, and do everything he can to support our state’s reality, and ours alone.

Lawrence Sukalski is a corn and soybean farmer in Martin County, Minn.