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Minnesota Legislature

Biodiesel exemptions extended

Published (2/24/2012)
By Sue Hegarty
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Jerry Schoenfeld, a lobbyist for the Minnesota Biodiesel Council, testifies Feb. 22 on a bill that would extend biodiesel minimum content requirement exceptions until May 1, 2020. (Photo by Paul Battaglia)When it comes to heavy machinery, you can’t put biodiesel fuel into an engine before manufacturers engineer for it. This is especially true during harsh Minnesota winters when biodiesel fuel (a combustible liquid derived from soybean oil or animal fat) can gel and clog machine engines.

So even though newer tractors and farm implements are designed to accept grades of biodiesel fuel up to B20, there are still industries that rely on purer forms of diesel. For example, million-dollar train locomotives and trucks that haul minerals to Minnesota mines are not equipped to comply with state biodiesel mandates and therefore have been given an exemption, due to expire in May 2012.

HF2158, sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston), would extend the exemption until May 1, 2020. The House Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee approved the bill Feb. 22, as amended, and sent it to the House floor.

Sen. Doug Magnus (R-Slayton) sponsors a companion, SF1635, which awaits action by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee.

The eight-year extension aligns with the average life of locomotive and mining truck engines. The bill would continue to give the operators the exemptions they need until new locomotives and trucks with modernized biodiesel engines can be manufactured.

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