Washington, though a pro-environment state like Oregon, is struggling to develop its biodiesel industry.
The obstacles are formidable. The Midwestern states such as Wisconsin already have mature technologies and infrastructure based on crops including corn (for ethanol) and soybeans (biodiesel). And everyone, from the Washington state government to the business are still trying to figure out not only how much to pay farmers to grow the canola and mustard crops but also how to cover the cost of building the plants to churn out the fuel. (Each plant can cost between $8 to $12 million).

State Governor Christine Gregoire has proposed low-interest loans for biodiesel factories together with tax incentives. A mandate that diesel sold in the state must contain biodiesel (similar to Minnesota) is being considered. But skepticism runs deep among growers.

"There's been projects for a long time that don't pan out," one farmer commented when he heard his co-op considering building a biodiesel plant, "So I'll believe 'em when I see 'em."


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