Missouri legislature to tackle biodiesel standard, ethanol requirement

| 12/17/2008

A leading lawmaker in Missouri is calling for a mandate of biodiesel use in the state. Missouri already requires that gasoline sold in the state contain 10 percent ethanol. A separate measure would drop the state’s ethanol rule.

Senate Transportation Chairman Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, filed a bill for consideration during the 2009 session, which would require all diesel fuel sold at the retail level in the state to be a biodiesel blend. The measure – SB29 – would require at least 5 percent biodiesel at the pumps by July 2011.

If it becomes law, Missouri would become the sixth state to enact some sort of biodiesel requirement. Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington have approved 2 percent standards while New Mexico has authorized a 5 percent requirement.

Stouffer said Missouri could take a significant step forward by adopting their own biodiesel rule.

In addition to helping biodiesel producers in the state, Stouffer said the proposed standard would benefit consumers and the state’s air quality. It also would reduce wear and tear on commercial trucks, he said.

Opponents said adopting a biodiesel standard would interfere with the private marketplace. Others said there is no guarantee it would lead to lower prices for diesel.

The bill would waive the biodiesel requirement if the price is more expensive than conventional diesel. It calls for implementing the biodiesel standard four months after the average price of biodiesel is equal to or less than the average price of regular diesel for a full year.

In addition, the Missouri Department of Agriculture would be responsible for developing cold temperature operability standards for biodiesel.

A separate bill offered for consideration during the session that begins Jan. 7 addresses the state’s requirement for ethanol blended fuel. Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, has filed legislation – SB11 – that would repeal the 10-percent ethanol mandate that took effect Jan. 1.

The blend is required when the price of ethanol is cheaper than gasoline.

“This mandate encourages farmers to grow corn or fuel instead of corn for food, driving up the prices on the consumer and hurting Missouri families struggling to pay for groceries,” Bartle said in a written statement.

Advocates of the law refute Bartle’s mandate claim. They point out that if ethanol isn’t cheaper, retailers aren’t required to blend gasoline.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor