Congressmen, engine makers, advocates address biodiesel

At the National Biodiesel Board’s 2007 Conference and Expo in San Antonio, a bipartisan group of four congressmen announced their strong agreement with the American Trucking Associations’ call for a national biodiesel standard.

Such a standard “would be well received on Capitol Hill because petroleum marketers are reluctant to handle all these different blends,” said U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., at a Monday, Feb. 5 press conference that immediately followed the convention’s opening session. “We need the trucking industry to use biodiesel over the road, and they won’t do that if we continue to offer them all these different boutique blends all over the country.”

“The nation will be better served if truckers know what to expect,” agreed U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla.

“We have different mandates in different states,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. “We have a mandate to use biodiesel in Minnesota, and it works, but there’s no mandate in neighboring states. I think we should have a national mandate.”

U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., noted that Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to regulate commerce “among the several States.” A national biodiesel standard would be a constitutional way of promoting free trade within the United States, he said.

“It would be helpful for the auto industry to have a uniform national standard,” McCotter said. “Such regulations would also help build a national political movement in favor of biofuels.”

Such a political movement should be the focus of the National Biodiesel Board’s efforts in the coming months, board CEO Joe Jobe told the convention’s opening session.

Wearing a cowboy outfit, Jobe cited the 1836 battle at a local landmark, the Alamo, in stressing the importance of taking decisive action to influence government. He noted that Congress soon will begin debate on the next Farm Bill, a key component of federal energy policy given the growing demand for biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.

“The next session of Congress and the government policy objectives we achieve or fail to achieve will set the course for this industry for the next quarter-century