Oregon B2 mandate takes effect Aug. 5

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 15, 2009
Posted July 27, 2009

Nine counties in northwest Oregon will adopt a B2 mandate beginning next week followed by the rest of the state later in the fall. The biodiesel blend will become mandatory Aug. 5 in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Yamhill, Polk and Marion counties. By October 1 the rest of the state will join the effort.

The only exceptions to the biodiesel blend mandate are rail, marine, and home heating oil applications. The two percent requirement has been recently triggered by Oregon's biodiesel production capacity now reaching five million gallons. The new fuel standard was established as part of renewable energy legislation passed in 2007, with a 10 percent ethanol blend requirement taking effect shortly after.

While the impact to diesel engines around the state is not expected to be great, the new standard has a significant reach. About 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline are sold in Oregon each year and about a half billion gallons of diesel.

As part of the new renewable fuel standard, Oregon Department of Agriculture requires testing of B100 biodiesel by the supplier upon receipt of imported fuel at the receiving terminal and by in-state producers prior to it being blended with the standard diesel fuel. The B100 biodiesel will also be sampled by ODA from time to time. The program will ensure that the parent products- the biodiesel and the diesel itself- meet specifications prior to the blending.

The inspectors don't really expect any major issues with the new renewable fuel standard. "Blended biodiesel has actually been sold by some retailers and wholesalers in Oregon for quite some time now but it has not been mandatory," says Clark Cooney, assistant administrator with the Measurement Standards Division. "Many businesses have been using it in their own vehicles on a voluntary basis, typically in a 20 percent blend. The City of Portland has mandated a B5 blend since August 2007 and I'm not aware of any problems being reported to us."

"We believe the use of a biodiesel blend is a good thing," says Stephanie Page, renewable energy specialist at ODA. "It supports Oregon biodiesel producers, which are local businesses. It also supports the folks who produce the material used to make the biodiesel- farmers who grow oil seed crops, and others who make use of waste oil and grease."

"There is increasing interest by agricultural producers to get involved in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects," Page said. "Biofuels is just one area where we think there is a bright future."

Oregon's law was set to go into effect when in-state biodiesel production reached 5 MMgy. SeQuential-Pacific Biodiesel LLC completed the expansion of its 1 MMgy biodiesel plant at Salem, Ore., to 5 MMgy, triggering the mandate.

Across the country, Rhode Island recently expanded its biodiesel fuel tax exemption which had previously covered only B100. The new legislation passed in July makes blended biodiesel manufactured in Rhode Island exempt from state fuel taxes, which were recently raised to 32 cents per gallon. Rhode Island has two biodiesel producers, Mason Biodiesel LLC at Westerly and Newport Biodiesel at Newport, R.I.
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