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ST. PAUL, Minn. — A coalition including the trucking industry is opposed to the State of Minnesota’s controversial idea of blending “biodiesel oil” into regular diesel by 2002.

The group, which includes the Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA), argues that imposing the fuel — a mix of derivatives from soybean and vegetable oils — will lead to higher diesel fuel prices, loss of fuel sales to surrounding states and possible fuel supply shortages.

The proposed legislation under consideration in the Minnesota Legislature would mandate the mix by 2002, then expanding the mixture by 2006.

“Biodiesel fuels have a promising future, but mandating the use of biodiesel is not the way to develop the industry,” said John Hausladen, president of the MTA.

The coalition says a study by the University of Minnesota found that mandating biodiesel would increase the cost of diesel fuel sold in the state by 2 US cents-to-6 US cents per gallon. On an annualized basis, that works out to a cost to consumers and suppliers of US$16 to $48 million a year, according to the study.

“The increased cost of biodiesel fuel will be passed on to all consumers of transportation services, affecting farmers, transit users, grocery store owners and customers, manufacturers, you name it,” Hausladen added.

“Some trucking contracts carry provisions calling for automatic fuel surcharges when the cost of fuel rises certain amounts and the cost of a biodiesel mandate could trigger those surcharges. A state biodiesel mandate really amounts to a hidden tax on all segments of the economy that rely on diesel-powered transportation,” he concluded.

The coalition includes the MTA; the American Automobile Associations of Minnesota and Iowa; Canadian Pacific Railway and Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway; United Parcel Service and Federal Express; Yellow Freight Co. and Ryder Trucks. Also participating is the National Association of Truck Stop Operators.

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