Starting Tuesday, in a push toward more renewable fuel, Minnesota will be the first state to begin requiring all diesel fuel sold within it’s borders to contain at least 10 percent biodiesel. The mandate is exempt during winter, when the requirement will drop down to 5 percent biodiesel.
The previous requirement was 5 percent, except during winter when it dropped to 2 percent.
With Minnesota as the No.3 producer of soybean, which is used to make biodiesel fuel, the mandate is a “clear win” for farmers, according to Charlie Poster, assistant commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture.
“It drives down the cost of fuel and increases the value of soybeans, which can put money in farmers’ pockets,” Poster told Pioneer Press.
It’s also much better for air quality, he added.
However, the state trucking association is not happy about the mandate, which is the highest in the country and forces trucking companies to adjust, while other states remain constant in their biodiesel requirements.
“We will be alone in the nation with a 10 percent mandate,” said John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association. “We believe that the biodiesel industry is mature and can stand on its own. It does not need a mandate now, and it’s time to phase out the mandate, not increase it.”
When biodiesel entered the scene about a decade ago, some poor-quality fuel led to major performance issues for trucks, clogging filters and infuriating drivers. So Minnesota lawmakers delayed the mandate, planning for all diesel fuel to contain a 10-percent blend, known as B-10, by 2012. Apparently, that was put off until now.
Those aren’t the only recent changes to the Legislation. The 10 percent blend requirement will drop to 5 percent on Oct. 1 instead of the originally planned Oct. 31. And the B-20 mandate, which was originally scheduled for 2015, will be delayed for an additional three years, beginning in 2018.
With officials changing their mind, and at the same time trying to reassure truckers about the performance and cost of biodiesel, the Minnesota Trucking Association has its doubts.
Hausladen noted that certain key diesel-consuming industries are excluded from the mandate including railroads, mining and logging.
“So it’s a de facto admission that the Legislature doesn’t think it’s reliable,” Hausladen said. “So our question is why does the trucking industry bear the risk when all these other industries don’t.”
The state’s move toward a higher blend is spurred by the Obama’s Administration’s push to increase renewable, clean-burning diesel and reduce dependence on imported fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard.