Monday, September 20, 2004

Use of Biodiesel on the Rise in Vermont

The Brattleboro Reformer has this in-depth report on the growing use of and support for biodiesel in Vermont. According to the report Vermonters purchased approximately 4,000 gallons of biodiesel in 2003 - a number that is expected to climb to over 45,000 gallons in 2004. The major roadblocks to greater use of biodiesel in Vermont include a lack of infrastructure for delivery of the fuel to consumers, and a lack of legislative support for the state's young biodiesel industry, which ultimately results in higher prices.

As the Reformer article points out, midwest states, which currently produce the majority of biodiesel used in Vermont, provide a number of incentives to farmers growing crops, such as soybeans, that are used in biodiesel, and also provide incentives for manufacturing biodiesel. Vermont, on the other hand offers little incentive to either manufacture or use biodiesel. For example, efforts to exempt biodiesel blends from the state gas tax stalled last year in the Vermont legislature. Neither the House bill, nor Senate bill gained enough support to make it out of committee.

Increasing support for the production and use of biodiesel in Vermont is a win-win-win opportunity. It creates new markets for agricultural products that can be grown in-state, leads to new job opportunities as the young industry grows to meet demand in an expanding market, and results in improved air quality as well as reduced reliance on foreign fossil-fuels.

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