Biodiesel regs near passage in New Mexico; similar rules sought elsewhere

| 4/3/2007

A measure that would require all diesel fuel sold in New Mexico to have at least a 5-percent blend of biodiesel is headed to the governor’s desk. Similar efforts are being pursued in other states.

The Senate approved the bill – SB489 – in early March. The House followed suit on a 50-14 vote that cleared the way for the bill to head to Gov. Bill Richardson’s desk. The governor already indicated he will sign it into law.

Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, the bill would require that all diesel fuel used in state vehicles be 5 percent biodiesel by July 2010. All diesel fuel sold in the state to consumers would need to be the biodiesel blend by July 2012.

Supporters say such standards for fuel are needed to help reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil.

The New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture would have the authority to suspend the state’s requirement if it is determined there is not an adequate supply or if the requirement results in a substantial price increase.

Among the states where lawmakers are pursuing similar standards is Montana. The state’s Senate overwhelmingly approved bill that would require the same 5-percent blend sought in New Mexico.

The Montana version – SB432 – would allow for the biodiesel requirement to be suspended if the mixed fuel costs 15 percent more than traditional diesel. Exceptions also would be made if the mixed fuel was causing engine problems or if there wasn’t enough biodiesel being produced in the state.

It has been forwarded to the House Transportation Committee for further consideration.

The Oregon House also is on the biodiesel bandwagon. The chamber approved a bill that includes a requirement that at least a 2-percent biodiesel blend be offered as soon as state production of biodiesel reaches 5 million gallons per year. A 5-percent biodiesel blend would be required when production reaches 15 million gallons per year.

The bill – HB2210 – has been sent to the Senate.

Another biodiesel bill is nearing passage in the Missouri Senate. A bill there would require all diesel fuel sold at retail in the state to be a biodiesel blend.

The bill – SB204 – would require at least 5-percent biodiesel at the pumps by April 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 Department of Agriculture would be responsible for developing cold temperature operability standards for biodiesel.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor