Missouri bills would tackle biodiesel standard, ethanol requirement

| 4/6/2009

A bill on the floor of the Missouri Senate calls for a mandate of biodiesel use in the state. Missouri already requires that gasoline sold in the state to contain 10 percent ethanol. A separate measure would drop that mandate.

The Senate agricultural panel advanced a bill to the full Senate that 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.

The Missouri 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.

Senate Transportation Chairman Bill Stouffer said adopting the biodiesel standard in Missouri would benefit consumers and the state’s air quality.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to mandates for biodiesel or ethanol. The Association cites concerns that biofuels drive up the cost of food for people and livestock.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer is hopeful that lawmakers avoid authorizing any more mandates.

“We should have learned our lesson from ethanol,” Spencer told Land Line.

That sentiment spurred Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, to offer a bill that addresses the state’s requirement for ethanol blended fuel. The measure would repeal the 10 percent ethanol mandate, which took effect Jan. 1.

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

“This mandate encourages farmers to grow corn for 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.

Bartle’s bill – SB11 – is in the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.