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Southwest Minnesota Fuels Nation’s Drive Toward Energy Independence

Meet the Architects of Minnesota's Renewable Fuels Miracle at Bio 2006

Minnesota’s national leadership in the development of alternative fuels will be on display April 9-12 at the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) annual international convention in Chicago.

The rural southwestern corner of Minnesota has quickly become a thriving renewable energy commerce center. Hailed as the state’s “dream machine” by Governor Tim Pawlenty, this 18-county region produces more than 70 percent of Minnesota’s wind power and boasts an array of biomass and biogas projects – making primary methane gas from decomposing biological waste.

A new plant in the region will create electricity from turkey droppings while another will convert solid municipal waste into a clean-burning, synthetic gas. Another pumps out 45 million gallons of ethanol a year – along with Shakers vodka – and is now developing a system to create biomass energy from corn stalks and husks, replacing its use of natural gas altogether. Yet another company is using corn to make everything from drapes to T-shirts.

Ethanol-blended fuel is easier to buy here than anywhere else. Minnesota is the only state in the nation to require that all diesel fuel contain 2 percent biodiesel, and all gasoline sold in the state must contain 10 percent ethanol – increasing to 20 percent by 2013.

Governor Pawlenty, chair of the Governors Ethanol Coalition in 2005, is leading the charge to increase America’s use of biofuels and alternative energy. He recently wrote to U.S. oil companies, urging them to join Minnesota in a nationwide drive to expand the awareness and availability of ethanol-blended fuels.

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