A new bill may soon require all diesel sold in the state of Missouri to be a 5% biodiesel blend made from Missouri-grown soy-bean oil – a plan that could benefit Missouri farmers, but send truckers looking to fuel up elsewhere.
The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Mike Haffner and would require all diesel sold in the state of Missouri to be a 5% biodiesel blend through 2024, and a 10% biodiesel blend for the next seven years.
The legislation moved out of the House on an 88-40 vote last month and had its first hearing in the Senate on Monday.
Farming groups throughout the state support the plan, but business owners and truckers alike are concerned about what the legislation might do to the free market.
“We believe it supports the rural economy,” said BJ Tanksley of the Missouri Farm Bureau to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Our customers ask for it and selling Missouri-made products is the right thing to do,” James Greer of MFA Oil said.
However, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers say that the bill could artificially interfere with the free market, raise fuel prices, and send truckers looking to fuel up elsewhere, which could negatively affect many businesses, such as family run truck stops.
“It takes the ‘free’ out of the free market,” Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Operators. Industry experts also point out that, while the bill could help farmers in one way, raised fuel prices, failing truck stops, and less truckers willing to come through the state could still hurt their operations in the long run.
“We’re price-sensitive all the time,” said Tom Crawford of the Missouri Trucking Association, adding that owner operators are always actively searching for the cheapest diesel prices.
“Missouri will be a true flyover state, or drive-thru state,” said Delia Meier, a Joplin truck stop operator who is worried the bill will lead to less business at her store.
At least one study estimates that the bill, HB529, could increase the cost of diesel by as many as 9 cents per gallon.