Minnesota proposes B20 biodiesel rule

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The first U.S. state to mandate biodiesel is proposing a new long-term plan that would require vehicles to fill up with 20 percent biodiesel blends by 2015.

However, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposal to raise the biodiesel mandate from its current 2 percent over the next eight years has drawn concerns from industry groups and road users, reports Associated Press.

The plan calls for an increase in the level of biodiesel that must be blended into every gallon of diesel fuel sold in the state. If approved by legislators, a B5 blend could take effect next year, rising to B20 by 2015. Biodiesel, which is produced from animal fat or plant byproducts, can be burned in a standard diesel engine in pure form (B100) or in a blend with petroleum diesel. B20 (20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel) is common is some commercial vehicles, although B5 or B2 is the blend of choice in colder climates, where high biodiesel mixtures are known to gel.

Minnesota’s plan would mandate the
highest biodiesel blend in North America.

“… Increasing the level of biodiesel in diesel fuel means that more of our energy will come from farm fields rather than oil fields and that’s a good thing,” Pawlenty told a Farmfest audience in Redwood Falls.

Four other states in the U.S. have biodiesel standards, but none require more than a B5 blend. Critics of biodiesel and ethanol argue that although biodiesel is marketed as an environmentally friendly alternative fuel, the effect on NOx reduction is negligible and some blends actually increase CO2 emission slightly.

Those same critics argue that mandating boutique fuels is a backdoor attempt of boosting the farming industry. While that may be good news for farmers, the cost of food reportedly goes up because corn and other agriculture supply is diverted away from the food market for the fuel market.

Ontario has been toying with a biodiesel mandate for years. More recently, Environment Canada announced it would be taking a serious look at requiring B2 biodiesel blends in this country by 2012.

— with files from Associated press

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