ST. PAUL, MN --- Minnesota's diesel fuel supply increased from a 2-percent (B2) biodiesel blend to 5 percent (B5) on May 1. The change is part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's plan to make Minnesota the first state in the nation to require B20 by 2015.

Biodiesel is a homegrown, cleaner burning fuel made from domestic, renewable oils. While biodiesel has been produced mainly from soybeans to date, some Minnesota producers are now processing or are moving toward processing biodiesel from alternative feedstocks, such as animal fats, spent cooking oils or even algae.

"Minnesota recognized early on that biodiesel could deliver powerful environmental and economic benefits," said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson. "Minnesota's diesel-powered vehicles have been running on this renewable fuel blend since 2005 when the B2 requirement went into effect. We know from experience that the fuel helps our air quality, our farm economy, and our effort to achieve greater energy independence."

According to state officials, B5 usage in Minnesota will prevent 139 tons of particulate pollution and 330,000 tons of lifecycle greenhouse gases from entering the air each year -- the equivalent of taking more than 55,000 cars off the road. And according to a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide from biodiesel are on average 48 percent lower than carbon monoxide emissions from diesel.

Increasing Minnesota's diesel fuel blend will require about 40 million gallons of biodiesel per year. With a capacity to produce more than 60 million gallons of biodiesel, Minnesota's biodiesel industry will be able to meet that demand, state officials said.