ST. PAUL (March 18, 2009) According to a new study released today, Minnesota could see more than 3,000 new jobs and nearly $600 million in economic activity if the federal government gives the green light to blending gasoline with 15-percent ethanol.

Earlier this month, national trade group Growth Energy submitted a “green jobs” waiver asking the Environmental Protection Agency to allow gasoline blended with as much as 15 percent ethanol. A rule that dates back to the 1970s arbitrarily caps the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline at 10 percent.

At a press conference appropriately held on “Ag Day” in the State Capitol, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson joined the Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Minnesota Farmers Union in calling for the EPA to approve higher ethanol blends.

“EPA approval of higher blends of ethanol will equal more jobs for Minnesotans, a cleaner environment for our planet and less foreign oil flowing into America,” said Hugoson, who, along with nine other state agriculture officials, signed a letter to President Obama in support of higher ethanol blends.

According to a report released Wednesday by Growth Energy, completed by the Windmill Group, in consultation with researchers from North Dakota State University, E15 approval could create 3,095 full-time jobs and inject $586 million into Minnesota’s economy. Nationwide, moving the allowable ethanol blend from 10 to 15 percent could create 136,101 new jobs and boost the struggling economy by $24.4 billion.

Those positive numbers don’t include the one-time boost of $993 million and 7,596 construction-related jobs Minnesota would need to expand its ethanol production capacity to meet increased demand.

“This study shows that the arbitrary 10-percent blend cap is nothing more than a cap on jobs and opportunity,” said Brad Nelson, president of the Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association. “Minnesota’s ethanol producers stand ready and willing to help get our economy back on track.”

Biofuels backers point to multiple studies, including some done in Minnesota, which show that a 15 percent blend of ethanol will not negatively impact engine performance or durability. In fact, just last week, an EPA spokesperson said that preliminary results in the latest round of E15 testing showed no “noticeable differences” when increasing the ethanol blend from 10 to 15 percent.

“When we moved to using E10 in Minnesota there were some at that time who said we’d be ruining cars, destroying engines and wrecking fuel pumps. Those naysayers were wrong then and they are wrong today,” said Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, who authored Minnesota’s ethanol fuel requirement law when he served in the Legislature. “The use of ethanol has taken us one step further toward less reliance on foreign oil, and becoming more reliant on home-grown energy.”

Because of the 10-percent cap, ethanol production is quickly approaching a saturation level. Without raising the cap, many fear there will be no incentive for the development of next-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol.

“Minnesota’s farmers are proud to grow corn to feed our families and fuel our vehicles. Thanks to the determination of farmers who refused to give up the dream of growing our own domestic renewable fuel, today’s ethanol is helping to pave the trail for exciting advancements in technology that are already increasing yields and producing cleaner, greener fuels,” said Roger Moore, past president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “Approval of the E15 waiver will help our rural communities through these tough times and allow us to remain on the cutting edge of biofuels production.”

The EPA has up to 270 days to act on Growth Energy’s waiver request.

•••

This article was submitted by Growth Energy, a group committed to growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy. More information can be found at GrowthEnergy.org.