Minnesota boosts biodiesel initiative from 2% to 20%

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently unveiled a schedule for taking the state’s biodiesel requirement from B2 to B20 over the next eight years. Designed to boost the level of biodiesel sold in Minnesota from the current 2 percent to 20 percent by 2015, Pawlenty says he would bring this plan to the Legislature during the regular 2008 session.

“Minnesota has led the nation in unleashing a renewable energy revolution,” Pawlenty says. “Other states are starting to catch on, and it’s time for us to continue to blaze the trail to a cleaner, more secure energy future. 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.”

Biodiesel in Minnesota is made primarily from soybean oil. It originally was added to Minnesota diesel fuel supplies at the 2 percent level in September 2005. Under the provisions of Pawlenty’s plan, Minnesota would move to a 5 percent biodiesel fuel blend by 2008, then to 10 percent by 2011, 15 percent by 2013 and ultimately to 20 percent by 2015.

Ensuring quality control and careful implementation, the governor has asked his Biodiesel Task Force to develop further details of the proposal and present their recommendations to the NextGen Energy Board. Partners in that process will include members from the trucking industry, petroleum marketers, farm groups, the American Lung Association and others.

According to Pawlenty, quality assurance measures could include a requirement that all biodiesel sold in Minnesota be “BQ9000 certified” and that the Minnesota Department of Commerce be given the authority to modify or lift blend requirements to address any concerns that may arise.

Biodiesel and ethanol production supports nearly 16,000 jobs in Minnesota and generates close to $4 billion in total economic activity statewide each year. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports that renewable fuels production has led to a 13 percent increase in demand for the state’s soybean crop and a 31 percent expansion of in-state soybean processing.