Fuel Management

Portland Expected to Delay Biodiesel Standard

March 04, 2010

PORTLAND, OR - The Portland Water Bureau has decided to delay implementation of a new Renewable Fuels Standard to meet goals for 2010, according to DJC Oregon.

The city's policy requiring all diesel fuel sold within the city of Portland to have a blend of at least 5 percent biodiesel (B5) would have changed July 1 to require a blend of at least 10 percent.

According to Anne Hill, program manager for Portland's RFS, the city has decided to hold off on the policy adjustment due to industry concerns about quality standards and engine warranties. Also, a requirement for all diesel fuel sold in the state to have a minimum blend of 2 percent biodiesel went into effect this year, as did a qualifying feedstock rule that requires 50 percent of biodiesel to come from canola and other specific feedstock.

Hill said the Water Bureau, which last summer took over management of the RFS from the Bureau of Development Services, feels stakeholders such as oil companies, fuel distributors, station owners and trucking companies need time to catch up.

"When you go over 5 percent, the fuel is no longer considered diesel and there are no ASTM standards. We're waiting for the industry to catch up," Hill said.

ASTM International is a nonprofit that develops international standards for materials and products used in construction, manufacturing and transportation. Hill said fleet managers have expressed concern that running B10 in their vehicles could void engine warranties, since no standards have yet been identified for the biodiesel blend. In addition, many car companies have not yet formally acknowledged that a higher biodiesel blend can run in their engines, DJC Oregon reports.

According to Hill, the majority of diesel is used for long-haul trucks, and the fear is that station owners will lose this business should the standard go into effect now.

But at the same time, the RFS has been integral in growing the business of biofuels in Oregon, according to Tyson Keever of SeQuential, a biodiesel supplier with offices in Portland and Eugene. Keever said holding off on B10 for a year or two won't kill Oregon's growing biodiesel industry, but added that it will impact his business and those of suppliers.

An RFS also has been adopted in other states, and Washington's state Legislature is considering implementation of a statewide B2-blend requirement.

Hill was adamant that this year's delay for B10 won't turn into a reversal on the city's biofuels mandate. She is monitoring ASTM's progress in creating a standard for higher biodiesel blends, as well as car manufacturers' progress in acknowledging that blends can run safely in their engines.

Portland City Council is expected to approve the suspension of the B10 standard, reports DJC Oregon.

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