Minnesota has been and continues to be a leader in the support of biofuels and was the first state to pass a biodiesel mandate requiring B20 (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent diesel), to be used in 2018. Last year a motley group of oil, gas, trucking, auto manufactures and dealers and trade groups, sued four key Minnesota state legislators directly tied to the biodiesel mandate. In the true fashion of supporting those who support you, several biodiesel associations (National Biodiesel Board, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Minnesota Biodiesel Council and Iowa Biodiesel Board) assisted the legislators in the lawsuit.
The suit challenged the Minnesota Mandate on two grounds. First, they argue the mandate is preempted by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and that it was implemented in violation of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA). The groups also called for an injunctive relief to the current use of B10 as part of the mandate and also for the future use of B20.
Biodiesel Mandate Background
The biodiesel mandate requires that 10 percent, or B10, be blended with #2 diesel from April to September 30 of each year and then lowers to B5 during the winter months. Due to lack of infrastructure in some areas of the state along with inadequate regulatory protocol, B10 was not implemented until July 1, 2014 when both challenges were deemed overcome. The mandate then requires the use of B20 between April-September beginning in 2018 and once again during cold months the blend level is reduced to B5. The only path to higher blends of biodiesel in winter months is if state officials determine several conditions are met, mainly that higher blends are suitable for year-round use in the state.
The case was heard in the United States District Court’s District of Minnesota and was ruled in favor of biodiesel. The judges upheld the biodiesel mandate in a ruling published on September 29, 2016. In regard to the RFS, the judges ruling stated that Minnesota’s mandate is not preempted by the RFS; rather it works in conjunction with the RFS.
In response to the ruling, the National Biodiesel Board released the following statement. “This is a significant victory that maintains the pathway to clean energy, renewable fuel and green jobs in Minnesota and across the country. The court’s ruling affirms biodiesel’s valuable role to help states move to renewable energy sources, promoting the rural economy and energy independence. We are pleased the District Court agreed with our position that America’s Advanced Biofuel is working both as a clear success story within the Renewable Fuel Standard and for states, which comes with it numerous benefits, including environmental.”
Theresia Gillie, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association president, said of the news, “We are very pleased to see the state and Minnesota Soybean’s motions were successful in dismissing the case against the state’s biodiesel mandate. Once again, Minnesota is at the forefront of energy independence and supporting renewable fuels. Nearly all engine manufacturers approve B20 for their engines and now Minnesotans are ready for the move to B20. We thank the State of Minnesota for their vehement defense of the biodiesel mandate.”