By Margy Lynch

December 5, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. — As the city of Portland looks to create a market for Oregon-grown biodiesel, some are questioning the cost to taxpayers.

The city uses different types of diesel for its truck fleet: Petroleum based fuel, biodiesel from out of state, and 5 percent of their biodiesel comes from Oregon farmers. The city is currently paying $6.75 a gallon for Oregon-grown biodiesel, even though the price on the street is only $3.49 a gallon.

“We do pay more for that small segment of biodiesel. But we’re also trying to create an Oregon market. So they’ve started growing more and selling more,” says City Commissioner Randy Leonard.

Leonard says the price of biodiesel is nothing compared to the price being paid for foreign oil. Leonard specifically cites the war in Iraq .

“We think we’re there to get oil. And though we’re paying a little more for this Oregon-grown biodiesel, not one child of anybody’s family has died getting it, so we’re trying to create a U.S. based industry. That’s going to be painful for awhile,” says Leonard.

Leonard says the city is working with Oregon farmers to bring the price down, but he says because it’s not an established market in Oregon, it’s tough. He also does his own math, saying with only 8 percent of the city’s fuel source, the average price of what they pay for fuel is $3.44 a gallon.