Canada readies for nationwide RFS in 2006

By | February 01, 2006
With Canada's January national elections set to take place at press time, both the Liberal and Conservative Parties are supporting a renewable fuels standard (RFS) of 5 percent in their 2006 election platforms.

According to Tim Haig, chairman of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA), getting this much bipartisan support has taken a lot of effort. "Kory Teneycke and others here at the CRFA have worked hard for this," Haig told Biodiesel Magazine. "There's probably been at least one or two meetings with senior staffers once a week for the past two years. We have also hired a government relations group that has been working toward this full-time."

The CRFA drafted the RFS into both parties' platforms, but an RFS bill hasn't been drafted yet, Haig said. With both parties making promises of a renewable fuels standard, the CRFA intends to seek swift action once the elections are over, no matter which side might win. "We're not going to be shy about holding them to this," Haig said. "Hopefully a priority will be sent to the new government to get this legislation drafted."

If the Liberals and Conservatives agree on a renewable fuels standard, that doesn't mean their reasons for supporting it are the same. "There's no difference in the end product of a 5 percent RFS, but the drivers are different," Haig said. "The Liberals are more Kyoto-oriented while the Conservatives are more interested in stimulating and developing the rural economy. The effect is the same."

As a nation, Canada has different reasons to support an RFS than the United States. U.S. support for renewable fuels is primarily to increase energy security, while Canada is more concerned with carbon and greenhouse gas reductions-and the Kyoto Protocol.

2010 is the target date to implement the anticipated RFS. If an RFS does become law in Canada, it will take about four years to fully develop the biodiesel and ethanol industries there-depending on whether available agricultural products could supply the needed renewable fuels industries. According to Haig though, that shouldn't be a concern. "Canada absolutely produces enough domestic feedstock to meet the 5 percent biofuels demand- without needing grain imports," he said. "It's clear we need to be, and are getting, further along with cellulose technologies and wheat-based technologies (for ethanol) … but for biodiesel, there's plenty of canola and animal fats produced in Canada to supply enough biodiesel." According to Haig, there has never been as good of an opportunity on this grand of a scale to articulate the need for an RFS in Canada than in the party platforms nearing a national election. "It was the perfect storm," he said. Provided a Canadian RFS passes federal muster, it would then have to go through provincial ratification.
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