Oregon to start implementing biodiesel mandate Aug. 5

| 8/3/2009

Starting this week, nine counties in northwest Oregon will be required to sell diesel fuel that contains at least 2 percent biodiesel. The rest of the state will make the switch Oct. 1.

The city of Portland has required a 5 percent biodiesel blend to be sold at stations since August 2007.

Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 5, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties will begin offering the biodiesel blend. Exceptions will be made for rail, marine and home heating oil applications.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski recently signed a bill into law – HB3463 – triggering the 2 percent blending requirement. He said it would ensure greater use of a renewable fuel source that will also reduce carbon emissions.

The new fuel standard was set in a 2007 state law that required biodiesel production capacity in Oregon to reach 5 million gallons per year before implementation. Most gasoline sold in the state already is mixed with 10 percent ethanol.

Future triggers specify that a 5 percent biodiesel blend be required when production reaches 15 million gallons per year.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to mandates for biodiesel or ethanol.

The Association remains concerned not only with performance issues, specifically the dependability of cold-temperature operability standards, but also with the significant tax subsidies doled out from the U.S. Treasury. In addition, OOIDA is concerned with biodiesel and ethanol’s impact on world energy and food markets.

“In both instances, neither the benefits nor the pitfalls of using these products have been thoroughly examined. Not only for the long-term impact on engines and components but also the long-term impact of using food sources as fuel,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.

Advocates say biodiesel produces fewer emissions than regular diesel and is a renewable energy source produced by farmers in the state.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture assures critics that inspectors with the agency “don’t really expect” any major issues with the new renewable fuel standard.

Critics aren’t reassured. They say biodiesel is a natural solvent and may loosen deposits that have built up in the fuel tank, causing fuel line problems.

The Department of Agriculture advises people to be proactive to head off any potential problems and to have fuel filters checked or changed as the biodiesel standard is implemented to alleviate potential problems.

While fueling stations throughout Oregon prepare for the introduction of biodiesel, another new law drops a mandate for ethanol use in certain classes of engines.

Previously HB3497, the new law alters the state’s 10 percent ethanol mandate by allowing retailers to sell premium, higher-octane gasoline without ethanol for certain non-road uses.

Starting Jan. 1, 2010, the state can offer premium gasoline, which has an octane rating of 91 or above, for boats, airplanes, antique cars, snowmobiles and other specific engine types.

It is intended to help smaller engines that don’t operate well with ethanol-blended fuel.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oregon in 2009, 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.