State lawmakers push for biodiesel blends

| 3/8/2007

The New Mexico State Senate approved a bill Wednesday, March 8, that requires all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain a 5-percent blend of biodiesel by 2010.

The effect of the bill – and similar bills in other states – is to incorporate renewable fuel sources into the energy chain.

New Mexico state senators voted 19-14 to approve the bill and send it to the state House of Representatives.

Lawmakers in Oregon, Montana and Missouri are also moving forward on bills to incorporate renewable fuels.

The Oregon House of Representatives moved recently to require a 2-percent biodiesel blend as soon as state production of biodiesel reaches 5 million gallons per year, and a 5-percent biodiesel blend when production reaches 15 million gallons per year.

The bill, which is currently up for state Senate consideration, calls for a 10-percent ethanol requirement for gasoline based when the state reaches 90 million gallons per year.

The Montana State Senate recently approved a mandate for a 2-percent biodiesel blend when the state reaches a certain refining capacity. There are currently no biodiesel plants operating in the state. Future increases to capacity would eventually bump the requirement to a 5-percent biodiesel blend.

A bill on the Missouri Senate floor this week would require a 5-percent biodiesel at the pumps by 2009. Retailers would not be forced to carry the blended product if the price is not competitive with the price of petroleum diesel.

The Missouri bill contains a similar blending strategy for ethanol in gasoline.

Truckers have raised questions about whether biodiesel – in pure form or blended with petroleum diesel – does harm to their engines, filters and systems.

Officials from the National Biodiesel Board of industry producers often say that “little or no modifications” are needed to the engine or fuel system to run lower biodiesel blends. However, a 20-percent biodiesel blend or higher can break down rubber components and elastomers, causing a need for replacement. The producers also recommend changing fuel filters – particularly early on after a switch to biodiesel blends.

“The release of deposits may end up in fuel filters initially, so fuel filters should be checked more frequently at first,” according to a statement on the biodiesel board’s Web site,

At the present time, based on supply and production costs, biodiesel can cost 15- to 25-percent more than on-highway diesel, according to The Associated Press. But experts predict that as production capacity increases around the country, the price of renewable fuels will be more competitive with petroleum fuels.

– By David Tanner, staff writer