Oregon Clarifies Biodiesel Rules

John Davis

OregonDeptofAgThe Oregon Department of Agriculture has clarified some of its rules about what needs to be sold as biodiesel. The agency says it sent notices to more than 400 retailers that they can’t market diesel with 6 to 20 percent biodiesel as “diesel.”

“We have investigated a number of consumer complaints alleging that certain retail fuel establishments are advertising diesel on their street signs at a significant discount relative to the competition,” says Steve Harrington, ODA’s Weights and Measures Program Manager. “When the consumer pulls in to fill up, they find out they are getting B20 and not the normal B5 diesel. B20 does not meet the legal specification for diesel and may not be marketed as such.”

During the 2013 Oregon legislative session, HB 2435 was passed which exempts diesel fuel blended with a minimum of 20 percent biodiesel (B20), derived from used cooking oil, from the state highway excise tax on fuel, which is 30 cents per gallon.

In response, ODA has sent out a notice addressed to all gas stations having licensed dispensers, both retail and card lock, advising them of the legal requirements for advertising B20. Essentially, B20 is required to be clearly advertised both on the street signs and dispensers so that the consumer may make an informed buying decision. If the prominent markings on the dispenser indicate that the product is diesel, then the product must meet with the diesel specification or it will be ordered off sale by ODA until the product labeling is corrected.

The agency says the 30-cent price discount without the tax makes B20 especially attractive for consumers, but officials worry it doesn’t meet some vehicle manufacturers’ specifications.