2009-01-22 / Local & State

Pa.'s 2 Percent Biodiesel Mandate To Take Effect

By MARC LEVY ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania is on track to become the fourth state in which each gallon of diesel sold contains a renewable fuel that comes from sources such as animal fats or plant oils, officials said Thursday.

If certain conditions are met, every gallon of diesel sold in Pennsylvania a year from now will contain 2 percent biodiesel as a result of a law Gov. Ed Rendell championed and signed last year.

Rendell pressed for the law as part of his wider advocacy to make alternative fuels and energy an economic engine for Pennsylvania. He also has pushed the law as a way to improve Pennsylvania's air quality and shift more of the demand for fossil fuel onto domestic sources.

"It's great for Pennsylvania's farmers, it's great for Pennsylvania's environment and it's great for Pennsylvania's consumers,'' Rendell said during a press conference at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Environmental groups supported the law, as did Pennsylvania's farmers because it expands the market for their soybeans and other products.

The capacity of in-state production of biodiesel from the state's seven biodiesel plants has reached 40 million gallons a year, the threshold necessary to trigger the 2 percent requirement contained in the law.

As in-state production rises to meet certain levels, the law will require diesel sold in Pennsylvania to contain increasing amounts of biodiesel, up to 20 percent.

However, the biodiesel mandate cannot take effect if vehicle manufacturers say it will void their warranties or if there is not enough railway and terminal capacity to handle it.

Most of the nation's biodiesel comes from soybean oil. Other major sources include recycled cooking oil, beef tallow and plant oils such as canola and cottonseed.

Minnesota, Oregon and Washington already have biodiesel mandates in effect, while Massachusetts, New Mexico and Louisiana have approved biodiesel mandates that have not taken effect, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

The board's spokeswoman, Jenna Higgins, said the price of a gallon of biodiesel typically rises and falls with the price of diesel, and often costs up to a $1 more per gallon. Currently, the price is similar, said Ben Wootton of Keystone BioFuels, a biodiesel plant in suburban Harrisburg.

According to the federal government, more than 5 million gallons of diesel were sold per day in 2006 in Pennsylvania, or more than 1.8 billion over the course of the year.

Return to top