Minn. commissioners recommend delaying move from B5 to B10

By Erin Voegele | November 08, 2011

Three government officials in Minnesota have issued a letter to a group of state lawmakers, urging that the state’s scheduled 2012 transition to a B10 mandate be delayed a year. Minnesota currently requires diesel fuel sold within the state to contain a minimum of 5 percent biodiesel. Under state law, the content mandate is set to increase to B10 in 2012 and B20 in 2015. The law states, however, that certain conditions must be met before the increase to B10 can commence. The letter issued to the chairs of six Minnesota Senate and House committees by Minnesota Agricultural Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Pollution Control Commissioner Paul Aasen and Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman notes that not all conditions have been met to enable the state to move forward and implement the B10 mandate.

According to the letter, Minnesota law requires the commissioners of agriculture, commerce and pollution control agency to determine that four statutory conditions be met before the new mandate can be implemented. These conditions involve federal standards for blend specifications, the production capacity of biodiesel in Minnesota, the amount of infrastructure and regulatory protocol for biodiesel testing, and the source of feedstock. The three commissions have agreed that these four conditions have not been completely met, and are recommending that the B10 mandate by delayed one year.

In the letter, the commissioners acknowledge that several questions remain concerning the statutory conditions. Regarding regulatory protocol, the letter noted that while the Weights and Measures Division of the Minnesota Department of Commerce is the enforcement agency of the state’s biodiesel content mandate, the length of interval between inspections might allow for an opportunity for undetected violations of the content mandate. In addition, the letter states that Weights and Measures does not have the authority to audit or inspect farm or fleet facilities to determine if Minnesota bulk facilities are delivering mandate-compliant fuel. The letter also notes that although the majority of the state is equipped with adequate biodiesel blending infrastructure, the southwestern portion of the state has historically experienced some issues with access to mandate-compliant fuel.

The commissioners stress that they firmly support the current B5 mandate as well as eventual moves to B10 and B20, but think the move to B10 should be delayed for one year. According to the letter, the commissioners pledge to monitor and address the issues related to Weights and Measures and the lack of infrastructure. In addition, the Department of Agriculture has agreed to convene the Minnesota Biodiesel Task Force Cold Weather Issues Team to discuss whether future waivers on No. 1 diesel are needed. The commerce commissioner has also pledged to determine wholesale diesel and biodiesel blend price differentials in the region and look into whether they may cause economic hardship to diesel retailers. The letter said this work will be done by Feb. 1. If such an economic hardship is found, the governor can elect to delay the move to B10. The Department of Agriculture will also work with industry partners and the Biodiesel Task Force to track developments in federal support for biodiesel, specifically those related to the biodiesel tax credit and RIN prices.

Dave Slade, director of technical services at Renewable Energy Group Inc. and member of the Minnesota Biodiesel Task Force, said he supports continuing the state’s B5 mandate for another year to work out any issues in moving to B10. “Our 30 MMgy REG Albert Lea facility is uniquely positioned to meet demand in Minnesota, especially in the southern portion of the state where infrastructure is in demand,” he said. “With more than 60 MMgy of biodiesel production capacity online in Minnesota, the industry is providing green collar jobs and supporting rural economies. We support the state’s decision for an additional year of B5. We look forward to working with our industry partners in reaching out to the petroleum supply chain throughout the next year in increasing awareness that high quality biodiesel is available across the state.”


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