costing Ohio millions
ODOT is spending millions of dollars on biofuel to help the environment
and farmers throughout the state.
By Jackie Borchardt
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Transportation spent an extra $3.3
million during the last four years on biofuels, according to a state
auditor’s report, but clean fuel advocates say the benefits far
outweigh higher prices at the pump.
Since July 2006, ODOT and other state agencies have been required to
fill their vehicles with blended biodiesel when available. Blended
biodiesel is a diesel replacement fuel made with plant materials,
usually soybean and corn. Last year, choosing biofuels over regular
diesel cost on average an extra 36 cents per gallon, according to the
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost suggested state lawmakers loosen the requirement
or scrap the mandate, which would save ODOT an estimated $800,000 per
year, he said.
“The mandate is not driving down the cost of biofuel,” Yost told the
Dayton Daily News. “The question you have to ask, is it worth almost $1
million to say you’re green?”
Sam Spofforth, executive director of Clean Fuels Ohio, said biofuels
support Ohio jobs and farmers, and keep gas prices from climbing.
Studies have shown the presence of biofuels in the market offsets
gasoline costs by as much as 20 percent.
“Ohio is home to a lot of biodiesel manufacturing,” Spofforth said.
“You’re talking about jobs here that are tied to production.”
The 2006 law signed by Gov. Bob Taft was intended to reduce costs and
smog emissions and help Ohio’s farm industry.
State agencies were required to buy flexible-fuel vehicles when
replacing old ones and use more than 1 million gallons of biofuel,
including 60,000 gallons of corn ethanol fuel, each year.
The cost-savings impact is greater for ODOT because the department is
responsible for most of the mandate — ODOT used about 2.6 million
gallons of biodiesel in 2011 or 97 percent of all agency biofuel used,
according to the Department of Administrative Services.
The report also suggested that ODOT cut back on fuel purchases, but
ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner said that isn’t possible unless the
mandate is removed.
The auditor’s findings are part of the first round of state agency
performance audits mandated last year by Senate Bill 4. In addition to
ODOT, the Department of Education, Department of Job and Family
Services and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency will also be audited
during the first round.
Last month, a preliminary audit report suggested ODOT could save $6
million by downsizing its fleet and closing two rest stops.
Read this and other articles at Dayton Daily News