Grain News

TCEQ Allows for More Info Before Reaching Biodiesel Verdict

Date Posted: January 3, 2007

Jefferson City, MO -- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has recently agreed to a second waiver to allow additional scientific evidence to be explored on whether biodiesel will impact the integrity of the TxLED program.

The Lone Star State has a Texas Low Emission Diesel (TxLED) fuel program. Due to past concerns of a negligible increase in nitrogen oxide (NOx) in biodiesel, the TCEQ has proposed bans two times the past two years on biodiesel blends.

Unless the biodiesel industry can persuade the State of Texas that biodiesel will not impact the integrity of the TxLED program, Texas will become the first state in the Union to ban biodiesel blends.

Texas is in the top two states for biodiesel production capacity.

As part of the stateís plan to address ozone nonattainment problems in its major cities, the TCEQ developed the TxLED program, which is very similar to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) diesel program, as a means for reducing NOx emissions from diesel exhaust.

It took effect on Jan. 31, 2006. NOx emissions, along with volatile organic compounds (VOC), are thought to be precursor pollutants for ozone formation.

The program covers a 110-county area that encompasses Dallas, Fort Worth, Tyler, Longview, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur.

This particular area within Texas is one of the largest diesel fuel markets in the world.

Statewide, Texas is projected to use more than 7.6 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2007.

To address TxLED, the biodiesel industry agreed to additive testing grant programs with various additives. However, the TCEQ continued to shift positions about how biodiesel fuel should be tested, so an additive-based compliance strategy was discontinued.

Throughout these discussions, members of the Texas biodiesel industry, including several members of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), formed a state trade association.

They called it the Biodiesel Coalition of Texas (BCOT) and it is made up of dozens of biodiesel-related groups in Texas.

Another aid to biodieselís longevity in Texas was DOE/National Renewable Energy Lab testimony at an October Senate hearing that showed no change in vehicle testing data in NOx levels compared to diesel.

Finally, on Dec. 8, 2006, the TCEQ Commissioners convened a public meeting and directed their staff to implement a policy to extend the biodiesel Alternative Emission Reduction Plan (AERP) for another year, until Dec. 31, 2007.

This will allow further testing and input from EPA, which recently announced plans to carefully consider the new data in hopes of making a more clear determination about the potential impact of biodiesel on NOx emissions.

The NBB and BCOT intend to coordinate their efforts to ensure that a timely resolution of the issue occurs on the national level, so further uncertainty in state programs like TxLED can be avoided.

For more information, call NBB at 888-BIODIESEL.

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