Texas biodiesel gets another stay of execution

| 12/8/2006

Biodiesel producers in Texas have received another stay of execution to prove their product meets a strict emissions standard known as TxLED.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality met Friday, Dec. 8, to continue the ongoing discussion about whether nitrogen oxide emissions are increased or decreased with biodiesel and its additives.

The commission enacted the Texas Low Emission Diesel standards in 2005 to reduce pollution in 110 counties along and east of Interstate 35. Those counties include the metro areas of Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, as populations and traffic continue to grow.

The three-member environmental commission, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, reached a consensus Friday to extend a previously issued deadline of Dec. 31, 2006, by one year for the biodiesel industry to show its proof of nitrogen oxide emissions reduction.

Commission Chairwoman Kathleen Harnett White and Commissioner Larry Soward agreed that the commission should extend the deadline to Dec. 31, 2007. A formal vote will take place Jan. 10, 2007, for that recommendation to take effect.

All other parts of the TxLED regulations will stay the same, the commission agreed.

Soward told speakers from the biodiesel industry to consider the extension as a time to act, so everyone involved won't have to revisit the same arguments next time.

"I would urge the industry not to sit on their hands so we're not in this position next December," Soward said.

Mike Nasi of the Biodiesel Coalition of Texas said the industry made numerous strides in biodiesel testing in the last year, including portable emissions monitoring in real-world conditions in addition to the standard engine tests in a lab.

Nasi urged the commission to accept the portable monitoring tests, which he said showed a NOx level that would meet the TxLED standard.

Although no decisions were made to accept that form of science, the commission agreed that a full rulemaking on biodiesel and TxLED standards was necessary to be implemented as soon as possible.

Any rulemaking of the sort would take time to come to fruition, commissioners said.

But the extended deadline for biodiesel producers came as no surprise to the National Biodiesel Board.

Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, told Land Line Magazine last week that he expected Friday's commission meeting to lead to the one-year extension.