MN’s New Biodiesel Requirement Cleans the Air

With Minnesota’s first-in-the-nation biodiesel mandate effective today, most diesel fuel sold in the state will be a B2 biodiesel blend that contains two percent renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils (usually soy) or animal fats. With increased availability of biodiesel in Minnesota, more fleets and individual consumers are now using higher blends like B5, B10 and B20.

The American Lung Association of Minnesota, a longtime promoter of cleaner-burning vehicles and fuels, hailed the mandate. “Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that significantly reduces harmful tailpipe emissions,” said Tim Gerlach, American Lung Association of Minnesota director of outdoor air programs. “We applaud lawmakers for taking this proactive step toward cleaner air and reduced dependence on petroleum imports.” Minnesota monitors its Air Quality Index (AQI) and posts data online daily. Four pollutants are used to calculate the AQI: ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particles (PM2.5). The two pollutants of most concern in Minnesota are ozone and PM2.5. Ozone, also called smog, is only a problem in warm weather and so is only monitored from April through September. PM2.5 is monitored year-round. While the AQI in Minnesota cities rarely reaches the “unhealthy” or red range, many citizens are affected by air quality in the orange range, or “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” On the same site that posts the above data are Air Quality Forecast Maps prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.