JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers are considering a controversial plan requiring all diesel fuel sold within the state to be blended with Missouri-grown soybean oil.
But while farmers and agriculture groups are pushing for the mandate, other business groups say imposing the standard will raise prices and send truckers to other states to fuel the tanks of their big rigs.
Under legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill, all diesel sold in the state would have to be a 5% blend of biodiesel through 2024. The requirement would ramp up to 10% for the next seven years before sunsetting.
The legislation moved out of the House on an 88-40 vote in March and had its first hearing in the Senate on Monday.
Missouri is currently home to seven biodiesel plants, where the beans grown in the state’s fields are converted into a form that is mixed to make biodiesel.
Corn and soybean growers, cattle ranchers and other farm groups support the plan.
“We believe it supports the rural economy,” said BJ Tanksley of the Missouri Farm Bureau.
James Greer of MFA Oil said the cooperative has blended soy and diesel since the early 1990s.
“Our customers ask for it and selling Missouri-made products is the right thing to do,” Greer said.
But the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers say the mandate is a poor public policy because it “artificially” interferes in the free market.
Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Operators, said it will trigger an increase in the price of fuel at the pump.
“It takes the ‘free’ out of the free market,” Leone said.
Tom Crawford of the Missouri Trucking Association said operators actively search for cheaper prices at the pump.
“We’re price-sensitive all the time,” Crawford said.
Truck stop operators say the legislation could help farmers, but hurt their operations.
Delia Meier, a Joplin truck stop operator, worried that the mandate will force price hikes in the cost of diesel, resulting in fewer trucks stopping at her facilities.
“Missouri will be a true flyover state, or drive-thru state,” Meier said.
Under one scenario, the blended cost would increase the cost of diesel by 9-cents per gallon.
The legislation is House Bill 529.