Biodiesel standard OK’d in New Mexico; similar rules sought elsewhere

| 4/24/2007

Gov. Bill Richardson has signed a bill into law that requires all diesel fuel sold in New Mexico to be at least a 5-percent blend of biodiesel by 2012. Similar efforts are being pursued in other states.

The new law, previously SB489, requires all diesel used in state vehicles be 5-percent biodiesel by 2010. All diesel fuel sold in the state to consumers will 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 fuel.

The New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture will 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 have taken up similar standards is Missouri. The state Senate approved a bill that would require all diesel fuel sold at retail in the state to be a biodiesel blend.

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, 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 more expensive than regular diesel.

Stouffer said the bill would provide many benefits.

“This is something that’s good for the environment, and I think it’s going to be good for the trucking industry,” Stouffer told The Associated Press.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture would be responsible for developing cold-temperature operability standards for biodiesel.

Another Senate-approved bill – SB40 – would allow taxpayers who buy biodiesel to claim income tax credits up to $500 each of the next four years. For 2008, the amount of the credit would be equal to 5 cents per gallon purchased. The following two years, the credit would be equal to 3 cents per gallon. In 2011, the credit would be equal to 5 cents per gallon.

Both bills have been forwarded to the House 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 – is in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee.

In Montana, a bill has died that would have required all diesel fuel sold in the state to have at least a 5-percent blend of biodiesel. The bill – SB432 – was tabled in the House Transportation Committee, effectively killing it for the year. The Senate had already approved it.

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

Another biodiesel-related bill also met its demise in the state. The Senate Taxation Committee tabled a bill – HB822 – that would have made truckers and others eligible for tax credits simply for filling up their tanks with biodiesel. The House previously approved it.

The bill would have made available to individuals and small businesses up to $500 in tax credits for using biodiesel or a biodiesel mix. The program would have run from 2008 to 2013.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor