NBB In Sight

B2, Act 2: Helping Washington transition to a biodiesel mandate
By Scott Hughes | May 01, 2006
As the state of Washington begins down the road of implementing a new biodiesel requirement, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has extended a hand. Washington is now the second state, behind Minnesota, to adopt a biodiesel standard for diesel fuel. Gov. Christine Gregoire signed this renewable energy legislation March 30.

The NBB provided regulatory and technical support to Washington during the legislative process, and our team will continue to stand ready as a technical resource while the state implements its new requirement. In doing so, the NBB will work with the state's Biofuel Advisory Committee, which will be formed to help assure a smooth transition.

The Washington law offers significant flexibility to the petroleum industry. Since it is volumetric, petroleum distributors can sell any blend, so long as biodiesel makes up 2 percent of total sales. It will ramp up to 5 percent of total diesel fuel sales after the director of agriculture determines there is crushing capacity and a supply of materials to satisfy a 3 percent requirement. There is also a provision that requires state vehicles and ferries to run on B20.

The requirement goes into effect Nov. 30, 2008, or when in-state production can meet the 2 percent requirement, whichever comes first. The law is expected to create demand for 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the first year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the state of Washington consumed 1 billion gallons of diesel in 2004.

Having been closely involved with the successes and challenges in implementing the B2 requirement in Minnesota, the NBB is in a good position to tighten the learning curve for Washington. The Minnesota B2 requirement took effect last year, and the industry quickly learned that fuel quality is more critical than ever when a mandate is on the table. There is no room for error.

Based on the experience in Minnesota, NBB recommendations to the Washington Biofuel Advisory Committee will include quality control measures for production and distribution, and petroleum industry education. Simple steps, such as requiring a certificate of analysis on every batch of biodiesel, will help assure greater fuel quality. The NBB also recommends all biodiesel producers become accredited under the existing BQ-9000 program. This voluntary industry quality control program is already in place on a national scale.

Washington has long been a leader when it comes to biodiesel. Commercial businesses such as The Essential Baking Company and Shilshole Marina, as well as governmental entities like Mount Rainier National Park and the city of Tacoma, all use biodiesel in their fleets. The state also has several biodiesel distributors, a biodiesel plant and dozens of pumps.

As more plants are built and infrastructure is ramped up, the NBB looks forward to continually working with Washington's public and private stakeholders who are at the forefront of the biofuels movement. As an industry, we know we need to remain ever vigilant on biodiesel quality and education. In doing so, we will show the nation that Washington and Minnesota have indeed made the right decision for energy security, the environment and the economy.
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