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Saturday, February 11, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Biodiesel gets boost in House vote

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington state drivers could have a greener option at the pump under a measure approved Friday by the state House as part of a larger alternative-energy package.

The measure, which passed on a 70-28 vote, would require that 2 percent of the state's diesel sales be biodiesel by Dec. 1, 2008.

By that same date, gasoline must be blended with a minimum of 2 percent ethanol. Ethanol standards could jump to 10 percent if air quality wouldn't be affected.

Biodiesel is a vegetable oil-based fuel that can be burned in place of regular diesel or mixed in varying blends; ethanol can be distilled from corn and grain and mixed with gasoline.

"This will help to break our addiction to imported oil," said Rep. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, and the prime sponsor of the bill. "Every bushel of feedstock could be one less barrel of foreign or domestic oil."

The measure that passed Friday differs from an original plan that would have required a minimum of 2 percent of biodiesel blend per gallon of diesel, and pushes back the mandatory deadline by 17 months from July 2007 to December 2008. Holmquist and Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes, said the reason for the change was to provide more flexibility for distributors and customers.

The goal of 20 million gallons of biodiesel sold a year in the state would not change, Holmquist said. More than 50 million gallons of ethanol would be sold under the bill, she said.

The measure also creates an advisory committee that will report to the director of the state Department of Agriculture on implementing the new standards and whether they're feasible.

The director will make a recommendation to the Legislature and Gov. Christine Gregoire by Sept. 1, 2007.

Under the bill, fuel-pump labels will show how much biodiesel or ethanol is in the diesel or gasoline.

Demand for biodiesel and ethanol has grown with the rising cost of gasoline and other petroleum fuels.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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