All state-owned trucks and machines with diesel engines could be operating on biodiesel soon if a bill approved by the state Senate clears the House of Delegates.
Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, D-Arlington, initially proposed a measure that required all commercially sold diesel fuel to be blended with the alternative fuel to create a mixture that was at least 2 percent biodiesel. It was amended to restrict the commandment to state vehicles only.
Mixing diesel with biodiesel reduces harmful vehicle emissions and can be produced from waste cooking oil. Chicken fat and soybean oil can also be turned into the fuel, which has drawn criticism by some for driving up food prices.
Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania sell biodiesel mixtures at every commercial diesel pump. Louisiana, New Mexico and Massachusetts have similar laws on the books that are yet to take effect, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
In the Virginia proposal, if the cost of the blend exceeds 5 percent of the cost for regular diesel, the state may buy regular diesel instead. It also gives the governor the option to increase the required mix to as much as 20 percent if it becomes available within the price range.