Friday, January 18, 2002

Biodiesel bill OK'd, blasted by users

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — A House committee approved legislation Thursday that would require diesel fuel in Kentucky to contain an additive that opponents warned would invalidate engine warranties and raise fuel prices.

        Supporters said the bill would reduce dependence on foreign fuels and help beleaguered farmers.

        The proposal would require, by July 1, 2003, that all diesel fuel in Kentucky contain a 2 percent blend and would increase to 5 percent by July 2007. The blend can be made from any animal fat or vegetable oil and most commonly uses the oil from soybeans.

        And it was soybean and agriculture interests that carried the day, with a 17-1 vote from the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee to approve the bill.

        Patrick Jennings of the Kentucky Farm Bureau estimated 17 million bushels of soybean would be sold to provide the oil for what is called biodiesel fuel.

        Mr. Jennings also said prices for diesel fuel in Kentucky are already well below that in surrounding states, though he quoted retail prices which do not take into account Kentucky's much lower taxes on fuel.

        Various estimates were given to the committee about how the price of biodiesel would rise above ordinary fuel, from 2 cents per gallon to 8 cents.

        Jay Westbrook, a representative of CSX Corp., said the railroad's concern was more practical. Mr. Westbrook said the railroad has been told by its locomotive manufacturer that its warranties on the engines and pollution control devices would be voided if biodiesel fuel is used.

        Trucking interests also said the bill would cause mechanical and emission problems.

        The debate also pitted industrial interests against the agriculture sector that might benefit.

        “Let's call this mandate what it really is — an attempt by heavily subsidized agricultural interests to tax diesel fuel users through the force of a state mandate in order to provide a financial subsidy to biodiesel producers,” said Richard Holcomb with the American Trucking Associations in a letter distributed to legislators.

        The lone legislator who voted against the bill said the goal of the bill was “certainly noble” but misplaced.

        “This is a tax increase on the people of Kentucky,” said Rep. Mark Treesh, R-Philpot.

        Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Bowling Green, chairman of the committee, hinted that the effective date of the requirement could be changed to accommodate objections.


Airports rely on dogs for security
Legal bills mount for federal inquiry
Fitness club worker charged in steroid trafficking
Shaken-baby' case brings 7 years
Events honor civil rights leader
Hospitals offer patients brochure about diversions
Military time off disputed
Police charge man trying to meet girl, 14
Scribes connect faithful
Suburban moms' cars easy targets for thieves
Teen appeals sex charge
Tristate A.M. Report
Woman found shot in lobby of motel
HOWARD: Some Good News
RADEL: Pet licenses
WELLS: Armed and dangerous
Antiques show moves to school
Bypass plans shelved
Commissioners oppose revision
It'll be chili today in Mason
Mason pares school construction
Teachers display support for negotiators
Electric chair to be kept ready, just in case
Many seniors fall short in tests
- Biodiesel bill OK'd, blasted by users
Florence Mayor Whalen files to run for re-election
Grand jury gets teen rape case
IRS ousts mom who shot man
Kentucky News Briefs
League seeks higher pay for mayors
Legislation aims to protect women, kids
Some truths not self-evident