Minnesota gives biodiesel industry more time to fix problems

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Minnesota commerce officials are giving the biodiesel industry another month to fix problems with the fuel that may have clogged fuel filters this winter, the Associated Press reported.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday, Jan. 11 said a state law requiring diesel fuel to contain 2 percent biodiesel won’t go back into effect until Feb. 10, extending an emergency waiver that would have expired Friday, Jan. 13. The biodiesel law, which took effect in September, made Minnesota the only state that requires that all diesel fuel contain at least 2 percent of biodiesel.

The soybean-based fuel is blamed for clogging fuel filters, possibly due to high levels of glycerin that gelled in cold weather. Representatives of Minnesota’s biodiesel industry, who pushed for extending the 21-day waiver, say they’re working on a quality-control plan that includes accreditation of biodiesel plants and state certification of fuel shipments, and they don’t want biodiesel back on the market until all the problems are fixed.

The Minnesota Trucking Association — which has criticized biodiesel — praised the latest move. “The fact that they’re extending the variance is a very good sign, because they want to make sure they have it right,” John Hausladen, the group’s president, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s pretty risky to put the product back on the market if you’re not 100 percent sure what you’re doing. So I give them credit. There is a great risk if this backfires yet again.”