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Biodiesel

13 May 2008

Minnesota has adopted a bill that will increase the state’s biodiesel mandate to 20% by 2015. According to the legislation, the current 2% biodiesel mandate will increase to 5% on May 1, 2009; to 10% on May 1, 2012; and to 20% on May 1, 2015.

The legislation introduces an approval process before moving to higher blends, which will allow the legislature, biodiesel producers and other stakeholders to gauge supply and demand impacts before moving to a higher blend.

The legislation also fosters the use of non-traditional biodiesel feedstocks by requiring that 5% of the feedstock come from non-traditional state agricultural resources. That includes algae, waste oils, and tallow, as well as other future feedstocks being researched in the state, such as cuphea (an oilseed plant that can grow on marginal soils) and industrial hazelnuts.

The National Biodiesel Board—the US trade association of the biodiesel industry—has also established a Sustainability Task Force to assure that biodiesel is produced in a sustainable manner.

At this time, no ASTM specifications exist for B5, B20 or other biodiesel blends. The ASTM intends to modify the D975 standard to allow up to 5% biodiesel content in diesel fuel, and is also developing a separate B20 specification. Under the US energy bill adopted in December 2007, if ASTM specifications are not adopted by December 2008, the US EPA will establish its own specifications for biodiesel blends.

In 2007, 500 million gallons of biodiesel were produced in the United States, which displaced 20 million barrels of petroleum. The state of Minnesota is one of the major soybean growing regions, with current biodiesel production capacity of 64 million gallons. This is more than enough to meet the state 5% requirement, which would be 40 million gallons.

Source: National Biodiesel Board