Confirmation: Biodiesel Not to Blame in Minnesota

John Davis

A new report confirms that biodiesel was not to blame for stalling school buses in Minnesota last week.

When the temperatures in the Minneapolis area dropped to -20 to -30 degrees F, some students got an extra day off from school when a handful of buses wouldn’t run. Naysayers immediately blamed biodiesel, but state officials suspected the green fuel was getting a bum rap (see my post from January 17). Now, a study shows the bio part of biodiesel had nothing to do with the problem.

This National Biodiesel Board release has details:

“The problems with school buses in Minnesota had nothing to do with biodiesel,” said Bill Walsh, Communications Director for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “An independent investigation confirmed what we believed last week – when it gets to 20 degrees below zero in the Midwest, diesel engines have trouble operating unless they are properly maintained – whether or not they are using a biodiesel blend.”

The report completed Friday confirms that components of diesel – not biodiesel – caused school buses in Bloomington, MN to malfunction last week.

“Nothing is more important than getting kids to school safely, which is why we worked proactively to find out exactly what troubled the buses in Bloomington,” said Ed Hegland, National Biodiesel Board Chairman.

The report issued Friday by Meg Corp. and paid for by the distributor that supplied the fuel, Yokum Oil, analyzed filters from the buses that broke down. The buses were using B2, which is 98 percent petroleum diesel blended with 2 percent biodiesel. Minnesota has a statewide B2 mandate in effect. “We found that whatever was plugging the filters was not biodiesel, but a substance found in petroleum,” the report concludes.

Plenty of us from cold weather states recognized that any diesel would have trouble in that kind of weather. It’s good to know that science proves our instincts right.