Minnesota to Require 20% Biodiesel Blends by 2015, with Caveats

May 14, 2008

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a bill on May 12 that will require all diesel fuel sold in the state for use in internal combustion engines to contain at least 20% biodiesel by May 1, 2015, with several caveats. As the name implies, the Omnibus Agriculture and Veterans Policy Bill spans a great many subjects, including biofuels. Section 51 of the bill increases the state's 2% biodiesel mandate to 5% on May 1, 2009, then 10% on May 1, 2012, and then to 20% on May 1, 2015. However, the increases to 10% and 20% biodiesel do not apply during the cooler months of November through March, when the standard will revert to 5% biodiesel, unless the state commissioners of agriculture, commerce, and pollution find that the technical issues associated with using 10% or 20% blends in cold weather have been addressed. (If not properly blended for cold weather, blends containing more biodiesel can gel on cold winter days.)

Those increases also depend on several conditions that the state commissioners must evaluate, namely, there must be an industry specification or federal standard for each blend; a sufficient supply of biodiesel, with at least half produced in the state, using mainly feedstocks produced in the United States or Canada (barring weather-related complications); an adequate blending infrastructure and regulatory protocol; and a supply of at least 5% of the biodiesel from nontraditional feedstocks, such algae, waste oils, or tallow (unless it is uneconomic to do so). The state commissioner of commerce can temporarily suspend the biodiesel requirements if there is a supply or quality problem, or if regional price disparities would cause economic hardship to the state's diesel fuel retailers. The bill also exempts several limited uses of diesel fuel and prohibits the production of biodiesel from palm oil, except when the palm oil is in recycled waste oil. See the press release from the National Biodiesel Board and read the new fact sheet on biodiesel blends from DOE's Alternative Fuels Data Center (PDF 272 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

To support the biodiesel requirements of the bill, Section 72 allows up to $300,000 in state bioenergy grants to go toward infrastructure improvements for blending biodiesel for use in cold weather. In addition, Section 69 requires the state commissioners to provide recommendations to the NextGen Energy Board and to the legislature on the potential use of biobased alternatives to diesel fuel. This may include diesel-like fuels produced from plant or animal byproducts through thermal or chemical processes. The NextGen Energy Board generates recommendations on how the state should invest its resources in renewable technologies to help achieve energy independence. Section 21 of the act defers the expiration of the NextGen Energy Board until mid-2014. See the full text of the bill.