Ohio’s Auditor Says State Agencies Should Stop Using Biodiesel for Fleets

May 30, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio’s Auditor of State Dave Yost stated in a new report that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has spent an extra $3.3 million on biodiesel fuel over the last four years in order to meet ODOT’s mandated use of biodiesel in its fleet vehicles. By using regular diesel fuel over biodiesel, the report states, ODOT would save roughly $800,000 per year going forward.

The auditor issued the interim performance report to ODOT Director Jerry Wray and recommended that the Ohio General Assembly revise the biodiesel requirement and instead let State agencies use regular diesel fuel in its fleet vehicles. The report found that State agencies paid $0.36 more per gallon than they would have paid for regular diesel fuel. ODOT used 2,568,359 gallons of biodiesel, or 202.4 percent of its yearly mandated amount of 1,268,983 gallons, in 2011.

“While the intentions of using biodiesel are good, government must be cost-effective,” Auditor Yost said. “The option to return to regular diesel fuel ensures that taxpayers receive the best value for their dollar.”

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA), whose members’ products are used in the production of biodiesel in the state, opposes the auditor’s recommendation, however. The OSA says use of biodiesel offsets demand for traditional fuels, thereby keeping petroleum prices from increasing between 20 and 35 cents. The organization adds that biodiesel increases engine lubricity, thereby helping to lengthen the life of engines that use this fuel.

“Biodiesel is a sustainable, more environmentally friendly fuel made from renewable resources grown right here in Ohio,” said Bret Davis, OSA president and Delaware County soybean farmer.  “It reduces our dependence on foreign oil, while also adding jobs and significant economic impact.  By using a product grown and produced in our state, we are keeping our taxpayer dollars here and in our rural communities.”

OSA’s Executive Director Adam Ward said that although the organization appreciates the auditor’s intent, the overall economic and environmental benefits of using biodiesel weren’t represented in the report.

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