Minnesota bill would boost biodiesel standard

| 4/21/2008

A legislative effort in the Minnesota Legislature would increase the state’s biodiesel mandate by tenfold in the coming years.

Minnesota law now requires large trucks fueling in the state to use a fuel blend that contains at least 2 percent biodiesel during most of the year.

The state is the only one in the nation to have implemented a biodiesel standard. Louisiana, Oregon and Washington have approved 2 percent standards while New Mexico has authorized a 5 percent requirement. A bill working its way through the Missouri statehouse would require at least 5 percent biodiesel at the pumps.

Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, is the lead sponsor of a bill in the Minnesota Senate that would increase the biodiesel blend offered in the state to 20 percent by 2015. Seasonal exceptions would apply.

The amount of biodiesel used would increase to at least 5 percent next year. It would be raised to 10 percent in 2012 and top out at 20 percent in 2015.

In the winter months, the requirement would drop back to 5 percent. The exception would continue a policy in the state of easing off the biodiesel mandate in colder months because historically the fuel has contributed to operating problems for diesel-powered vehicles during that time period.

Opponents say making such a large commitment to biodiesel would hinder future efforts to develop the next generation of fuels that would be even cleaner. Supporters say boosting the state’s commitment to biodiesel would help soybean farmers.

Also included in the bill is a provision to use $500,000 for the research into algae as fuel.

The Senate version – SF3683 – is awaiting final consideration before the full chamber. The House version – HF2987 – is awaiting House floor debate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Minnesota, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor