Minnesota moves to B5, upping standard, benefits

By | April 15, 2009
Web news posted April 30, 2009, at 2:05 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. Minnesota is again leading the nation in the charge to keep valuable jobs in the U.S., decrease dependence on foreign oil and lessen environmental impacts. The state is the first to require that diesel fuel contain a 5 percent blend of homegrown, renewable biodiesel.

"Increasing biodiesel in our diesel fuel allows us to take advantage of a renewable fuel made in Minnesota, which in addition to being environmentally responsible also adds to our state's bottom line," said Ed Hegland, a Minnesota soybean farmer and chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. "I'm proud to live in a state that is leading energy innovations and taking part in valuable solutions like biodiesel."

Biodiesel is a sustainable, renewable alternative to diesel fuel that reduces greenhouse gases and other emissions, and is nontoxic and biodegradable. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel. Blends can be used in most diesel engines with few or no modifications.

"This standard empowers the citizens of the state to support Minnesota's economy and use less foreign oil," said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO.

Blends of up to 5 percent biodiesel (B5) are legally categorized as diesel fuel, eliminating any operational or potential warranty concerns. B5 also boasts premium performance characteristics and when properly handled, will perform just like diesel.

The biodiesel industry works closely with the petroleum industry and offers many resources regarding biodiesel use in cold climates. Biodiesel's cold weather performance is well documented. It is safe to use up to a 20 percent blend of high quality biodiesel year-round, in even the coldest of climates. Biodiesel will gel in cold weather, just like regular diesel fuel. But biodiesel blends can be treated for winter use in similar ways that No. 2 diesel is treated. Cold weather concerns are greatly diminished with lower blends like B5.

Some early concerns with the Minnesota B2 requirement were overcome through enhanced quality control, and the program has been a biodiesel success story ever since. Last winter, officials in the Bloomington school district wrongly blamed biodiesel for buses' cold weather operating problems. An independent study and the Minnesota Department of Commerce confirmed B2 did not cause the malfunction.

According to analysis from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the state's B2 Fuel Standard added an average of just 4/10 of a penny to the cost of a gallon of diesel during the last three years.

Minnesota was the first among what is now a roster of states that also recognize the countless benefits of biodiesel and have introduced usage requirements of cleaner burning, domestically produced biodiesel. Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, New Mexico and Massachusetts have also passed biodiesel requirements.

Minnesota is already home to excellent fuel quality enforcement requirements, proven and tested under the state's B2 standard. The National Biodiesel Board vigorously supports enforcement of quality standards. The NBB has an aggressive fuel quality outreach and enforcement program, funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the United Soybean Board.

Last year U.S. biodiesel production approached 700 million gallons, supported 51,893 jobs in all sectors of the economy, added $4.287 billion to the nation's Gross Domestic Product and reduced greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of removing 980,000 vehicles from U.S. roads.

Source: National Biodiesel Board
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