Living in a state committed to leading the charge for biodiesel, it’s easy to understand why Minnesota soybean farmers are fond of their product. But Minnesota isn’t the only place in the nation committed to the advancement of biodiesel.
That’s why a group Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association directors are touring parts of New York and New Jersey with the National Biodiesel Board to learn more about how biodiesel and bioheat impact the East Coast.
“We are at a B2 mandate in New York City, which means all home heating oil, within all buildings within the city of New York must have at least B2 biodiesel as part of their heating oil mix,” said John Maniscalco, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Oil Heating Association.
Maniscalco noted that New York City itself is the largest real estate owner in the city and that all city-owned buildings must use a B5 blend of heating oil. But Maniscalco said the uses for biodiesel in New York City doesn’t stop with bioheat.
“We also have a mandate for the city-owned fleet, which comprises the sanitation department, fire department, police department and the biggest one being the parks department,” he said. “They all have to be on B5, which escalates to B20 during the summer months. Understand that’s in excess of probably 6,000 vehicles, so that’s a nice pump up in usage.”
MSGA Director and Appleton, Minn., farmer Ed Hegland, who also sits on NBB, attended the Bioheat Tour in New York. He says Minnesota can gain from the widespread use of biodiesel on the East Coast.
“These folks were talking about where there beans come from,” Hegland said. “They know and some of them have been to the Midwest touring farms, and I think we’d like to have some more of that happen so we can show them what we are doing on our family farms that’s working in their family businesses.”
John Lubas, President of the Empire Clean Cities Coalition, which covers New York City and Lower Hudson Valley, says the ECCC has been using biodiesel blends up to 20 percent for quite some time. Lubas should know. He is a retired director for the port authority in New York and New Jersey.
“The port authority has been using biodiesel for well over 10 years now,” Lubas said. “We think this is a superior fuel for a number of reasons — greater lubricity, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the energy security aspect associated with using a national product and of course it renewability. We are very pleased in New York City. You would think perhaps it’s a city with a lot of urban areas, which it is, but we use millions and millions of gallons of biodiesel and continue to look for avenues in which to increase those volumes.”
Karolyn Zurn, an MSGA director, who along with her husband Bill, an MSR&PC director, took part in the tour.
“I think this is an excellent experience for the farming community to come out here and to see what our beans are actually doing for the people out here,” Karolyn Zurn said. She and Bill farm near Callaway, Minn. “I am so happy that the bioheat industry has become very strong. It’s saved a lot of families and it’s saved a lot of family-owned businesses, and I can see the difference we make as a farmer.”
Karolyn Zurn said she would like to see more of a connection with the general public about what farmers have done in New York.
MSR&PC Vice Chair Kieth Schrader, MSGA Director Ron Obermoller and Minnesota Soybean CEO Tom Slunecka also joined the Minnesota delegation on the tour, which began Dec. 15 and ends Dec. 17.