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Hoskins ignites talks for biodiesel minimum with new bill

The Missouri Times is previewing pre-filed legislation during the month of December, bringing you an insider’s look at bills that could potentially drive session next year. Follow along with our Legislative Preview series here.

While other states have enacted biodiesel fuel minimums over the past few years, Missouri has yet to do so — despite being one of the largest producers in the country. A new bill filed in the upper chamber for 2021 would change that.

SB 96, pre-filed by Sen. Denny Hoskins, would create the Missouri Made Fuels Act. The bill establishes a minimum for biodiesel in combustion engines in the state of Missouri, beginning at 5 percent from April 2022 through March 2023 and increasing to 10 percent through the next year before settling at 20 percent in 2024.

Hoskins said the bill would help Missouri’s fuel producers while taking concerns about the product into consideration.

“Biodiesel fuel is made with soybean oil or a byproduct of soybeans, while ethanol uses corn,” Hoskins told The Missouri Times. “What my bill would do is establish a biodiesel standard. In the winter months, people are concerned the fuel would gel and not flow as well, and that’s something my bill accounts for; it would phase the biodiesel blend in and only apply for the months from April through October, while the minimum would remain 5 percent in the winter months.” 

Hoskins filed a similar act in the Senate last year, though it didn’t rev enough engines to make it through the abbreviated session. He said he expected the support he had seen with the original bill to carry over into his second attempt.

“It’s similar to the bill that I filed last year, which was the first year that we rolled this out. We’ve worked with convenience stores, farming groups, and the petroleum industry. When we talk about ‘Missouri made’ and our reliance on other countries for our fuels and things like that, this is one way to help our local soybean farmers who currently have to sell their product to other states,” he said. 

Casey Wasser, director of policy for the Missouri Soybean Association and a supporter of Hoskin’s bill, said the state was the second-largest producer of biodiesel in the country. 

“We see the Missouri Made Fuels Act as a way to provide stability to an industry that adds 2,500 jobs to Missouri’s economy, and over $50 million annually in state tax revenue,” Wasser said. “If we do not prioritize our rural communities, farmers, and our biodiesel production plants, Missouri will lose out to other states that are.”

Hoskins said enacting the requirement would help Missouri farmers and help bolster the state’s agricultural industry. 

“We have all these other states buying our soybean product, and we’d like to keep it right here at home and create more jobs and add more value to the market, as well as to our farmers,” Hoskins said. “Other states that currently have a biodiesel standard have seen a wide range of success, and it’s brought economic growth to their state. We’re just trying to keep that soybean byproduct here in the state, grow jobs, and grow the economy here in Missouri.”

Senate pre-filing opened at the start of December. The 2021 legislative session begins Jan. 6.