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Minnesota will need fossil-fuel infrastructure for a long time to come

Climate change activists have long said that combustion engines are on the way out. While that may happen sometime in the future, it is naïve to think the change will happen overnight.

The July 30 Community Voices piece “Fossil fuel infrastructure affects Minnesota’s economy and environment” left out a few key pieces of data around the Line 3 Replacement Project that are necessary to clarify for MinnPost readers.

Representing the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association, and the Association’s gas brand “Minnoco,” we are intimately knowledgeable about transportation fuels consumption and trend data. Climate change activists have long said that combustion engines are on the way out, soon to be replaced by electric vehicles or other mass transit options. While that may happen sometime in the future, it is naïve to think the change will happen overnight and failing to replace aging infrastructure will not quell the demand.

In 2019, there are 2,333 service/fueling stations in Minnesota. Of those, only 332 stations provide charging stations, with the bulk of those stations located in the metro area and scarce highway corridors, residents in Greater Minnesota cannot rely on electric vehicles in harsh winter conditions, and further, there are not yet systems in place to accommodate EVs.

According to petroleum industry reports, given these facts and knowing that petroleum will continue to be used for well into the future, “infrastructure lock-in” is an invalid argument when it comes to energy transportation.

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The author fails to mention the positive economic impact of the service station industry. Each year, for instance in Minnesota, according to NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores), service stations/fueling stations employ nearly 35,000 employees, boast sales of over $9 billion dollars — not to mention serving local Minnesotans 2.6 billion gallons of fuel annually. MSSA members/ Minnoco retailers are also on the forefront of the bio-fuels revolution. Minnoco members sell alternative renewable fuels such as Diesel, E85, E30, E15, 87, 89 and 91 octane fuels. Minnesota farmers not only rely on dependable energy and will continue to use petroleum products for the foreseeable future, they are the leaders on growing energy sources used in ethanol and bio-diesel, which are wonderful alternatives as we all seek to protect our environment continuing to support a “buy local” movement.

So, we know Minnesotans continue to consume gasoline, bio-fuels and petroleum products and the industry is valuable to our state’s economy. The author spends a great deal of time discussing climate change emissions and the social cost of carbon, not taking into account if the crude oil is not transported by pipeline, it will be transported by rail. Crude oil is going to move the market, and we believe it should be transported through the safest means possible – which, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, is through pipeline.

Finally, the author was correct in noting there has been a lot of policy discussion around crude oil transportation – more than four years in the case of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project. Last summer, the PUC found the benefits to replace Line 3 outweighed not replacing it, in order to protect our Minnesota natural resources. We are hopeful the Walz administration will keep this important project moving forward for our economy, for our retailers and for Minnesota.

Lance Klatt is the executive director of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association.