State legislation boosts biodiesel

By | May 25, 2007
Four U.S. states have recently made a push for state biodiesel use mandates or tax credits.

On April 3, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill into law that required all diesel sold in the state to contain 5 percent biodiesel by July 1, 2012. The new law is a toned-down version of the original bill, which called for statewide B20 use by 2020, according to state Rep. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, who initially proposed the bill. "We obviously have a lot further to go before biodiesel will be recognized as one of the viable alternative fuels, but at least we got off the ground this year," he said. If the price of biodiesel is too high or the fuel isn't readily available, the director of the New Mexico Department of Energy can rescind the mandate for a limited time. There is currently one 750,000-gallon-per-year biodiesel plant in the state, a 15 MMgy facility currently under construction in Clovis, N.M., and two more being developed. "Ultimately, we think that a number of very promising sources of biodiesel will be developed to commercial success in our state and that this year's legislation will have played a big hand in fostering that," Ortiz said.

Similar legislation was passed by the Missouri Senate that required all diesel sold in the state after April 1, 2010, to contain at least 5 percent biodiesel. Distributors aren't required to purchase a biodiesel blend if conventional diesel is cheaper, however. At press time, the bill had been sent to committee in the Missouri House, and a vote was expected before the end of the legislative session May 18.

The Florida House approved an energy package that called for at least 20 percent of the diesel fuel purchased by school districts to be biodiesel by January 1, 2008. In addition, state fleets would take a stepwise approach to biodiesel purchases: A minimum of 5 percent of total diesel purchases must be biodiesel by July 1, 2008; a minimum of 10 percent must be biodiesel by January 1, 2009; and a minimum of 20 percent must be biodiesel by January 1, 2010. In any case, biodiesel usage would be subject to availability. "I think it's clear that nationally we need to get away from fossil fuels and be a greater producer of biofuels," said Adam Hasner, deputy majority leader of the Florida House.

A Nebraska bill is expected to pass by the end of the state's legislative session in May that creates a maximum $250,000 income tax credit for 30 percent of any investment in a new biodiesel facility. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Chris Langemeier, requires that a new plant be located in the state and that Nebraskans own at least 51 percent of that plant. To qualify for a percentage of the credit, a plant must produce 70 percent of its rated capacity for at least a week in the first year and for at least six months each following year.
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