Note: This article was originally published in the April 2002 issue of Democratic Energy.
In March 2002, Minnesota enacted the nation’s first biodiesel mandate. The new law requires nearly all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain at least 2 percent biodiesel by 2005. The mandate can go into effect earlier than 2005 if Congress enacts financial incentives for using vegetable oil in vehicles and if Minnesota has a sufficient in-state capacity to produce 8,000,000 gallons per year.
Biodiesel is a fuel additive derived from animal fats or plant oil, typically soybeans. The mandate is expected to raise the price of diesel fuel in Minnesota 1-2 cents per gallon. Currently, the state exports about 60 percent of the soybeans grown in the state. As the new manufacturing plants are built, the positive impacts of utilizing the crop locally are expected to ripple through Minnesota’s rural economies.