Biodiesel is making a difference

(BPT) – Soybean farmers in Minnesota have been at the forefront of developing a homegrown renewable fuel that has resulted in a dramatic improvement of the air quality in the state.

Biodiesel has become an important part of the energy landscape in Minnesota and across the country. In just over 15 years, the biodiesel market in the U.S. has increased from about 25 million gallons to more than 2.8 billion gallons. Biodiesel is a value-added by-product made from domestic, renewable resources such as soybean oil. After the oil is extracted from soybeans, all subsequent protein is used for human and livestock consumption, leaving nothing to waste.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, diesel-powered cars accounted for only about 3 percent of total U.S. auto sales in 2014. You may be scratching your head and saying, “I don’t drive a diesel vehicle. Why should I care?”

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, more than 95 percent of large, heavy-duty trucks are diesel-powered, as are most medium-duty trucks. Together, they move more than 90 percent of the nation’s freight. And don’t forget public transit, school buses and construction equipment. Things we all encounter every day.

Here are just some of the reasons biodiesel matters:

Reducing emissions

And while you may think these trucks’ massive diesel engines are an unfortunate but necessary aspect of commerce and expansion, think again.

According to the American Lung Association of Minnesota (ALAMN), during the 10-year period with biodiesel as a fuel standard for Minnesota, a reduction of more than 7.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide has already been realized. ALAMN estimates that is comparable to removing the emissions from 706,649 passenger vehicles or 17,998 railcars of coal.

Biodiesel’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent is why the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes it as the only advanced biofuel.

Revitalizing rural communities

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the biodiesel industry contributes $1.7 billion annually in the state, while supporting 5,397 jobs. Nationwide, there are approximately 200 biodiesel plants, providing nearly 48,000 jobs. These are often hard-hit areas where employment options are few. Leaving for “greener pastures” is no longer the only option.

“Biodiesel is another step in increasing the diversity of our energy needs,” says Tom Slunecka, CEO, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. “Minnesota soybean farmers are proud to be leaders in growing that diversity.”

In 2002, Minnesota became the first state to require that all diesel fuel sold contain at least 2 percent blend of biodiesel. In summer 2018, Minnesota will be the first to move to B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel.

The benefits of biodiesel are considerable, not just for Minnesota, but for the country as a whole.

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