Minnesota has become the first and only state in the nation with a biodiesel requirement. On Thursday, Minnesota implemented an initiative that blends two percent biodiesel (B2) throughout its entire diesel fuel supply.

Minnesota has exceeded a state legislative requirement that the state have biodiesel production capacity of at least eight million gallons a year. The state now leads the nation with its annual biodiesel production capacity of 63 million gallons.

"Many people talk about doing something to help change our energy situation in this country; in Minnesota they don't just talk--they took a stand and did something about it," said Joe Jobe, chief executive officer National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

"Today, biodiesel produced in Minnesota from soybeans grown in Minnesota, is flowing through the veins of the state's energy infrastructure. Liquid solar energy from the Midwest is replacing oil from the Mid-East," said Jobe. "Minnesotans should be proud."

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) first introduced the B2 legislation in 2000 and again in 2001. With the help of clean air advocates and agricultural organizations, including the National Biodiesel Board, the legislation that had become known as the "B2 legislation" passed.

The result was three biodiesel plants in Redwood Falls, Albert Lea and Brewster, with combined production capacity that far exceeds the production requirement to implement the B2 rule.

"An economic study completed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture estimates that using just B2 blends will increase the demand for soybean oil in Minnesota by 92 million pounds--that's the equivalent of 8.5 million bushels of soybeans," said Bob Worth, president of MSGA.

"But we already have school bus fleets, trucking firms and municipal fleets using a 20 percent blend--B20. Minnesotans really embraced biodiesel for three basic reasons--it's better for the environment, it's good for the economy and it helps our nation reduce its dependence on foreign oil."

The biodiesel blend will also help meet an operational need in diesel starting in 2006. Next year, ultra-low sulfur diesel will be phased in nationwide, and some sort of lubricity additive will be required. Two percent biodiesel fully restores the needed lubricity to prevent premature engine wear and tear in diesel engines.

The B2 legislation, passed in 2002, required that the state have a biodiesel production capacity of eight million gallons before it could be implemented. In August, 2005, Commissioner of Agriculture Gene Hugoson certified that the state had met that requirement, setting in motion the September 29 implementation date.