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Iowa Considers Biofuel Mandate

DES MOINES, Iowa -- All regular diesel fuel would be illegal in Iowa after July 1 under a controversial proposal before state lawmakers, according to a report by the Des Moines Register.

Farmers, truckers, school districts with diesel buses and owners of any personal vehicle with a diesel engine would be required to use biodiesel, an alternative fuel that is largely soybean-based, according to the report.

Iowa has only rarely placed mandates on fuel types sold. Even ethanol-based gasoline remains voluntary.

This law would promote Iowa-grown fuel, create "green collar" jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil, according to Democratic Sen. Daryl Beall.

Lawmakers—including the 31 senators who sponsored the bill—seem serious about passing the mandate this year, according to the report. The idea gained favor after an 8-cent gas tax increase proposal collapsed when Gov. Chet Culver vowed last week to veto it. Biodiesel would probably have been exempt from the tax hike, making it cheaper and creating a financial incentive to use it.

Under the new proposal, the required blend of biodiesel would ramp up from 5 percent this summer to 20 percent by 2015. Among those opposed to the bill are truckers and convenience stores, according to the report.

Gas stations wouldn't need special pumps for biodiesel, but they may need an extra tank, lobbyists said.

Although the state currently subsidizes retailers to pump biodiesel, the bill calls for those tax credits to end, the newspaper reported. The credits, approximately $5 million a year, are set expire in 2011, Beall noted.

Gas stations could choose to sell only the 5-percent blend and not the higher blends from Nov. 1 to March 31, Beall said.
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