Implementing a Mandate

Canadian Renewable Fuels Strategy meets new milestone
By Erin Voegele | March 09, 2011

The Canadian government is moving ahead with plans established in 2009 to implement a 2 percent biodiesel mandate for diesel and home heating oil. The announcement, made Feb. 10, calls for a July 1 implementation. The proposed regulatory amendment has been published in the Canada Gazette, and is open for a 60-day comment period.

“When we announced our renewable fuels strategy, we were clear that the 2 percent requirement would be implemented subject to technical feasibility,” said Peter Kent, minister of the environment. “After positive results, we are moving forward with this requirement, which will result in further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately in cleaner air for all Canadians.”

According to Canadian Renewable Fuels Association President Gordon Quaiattini, implementation of the mandate is critical to the country’s biodiesel industry. “It ensures a market for the renewable fuels that we are producing,” he says. “The commitment was made in 2009 that they would move ahead in 2011, so we are certainly appreciative of the government keeping that commitment and showing its leadership on moving ahead with this renewable diesel standard.”

The B2 mandate translates into the use of approximately 600 million liters (159 million gallons) of biodiesel each year. “We have about 200 million liters of biodiesel capacity in Canada currently constructed, with other projects moving forward,” Quaiattini says. “So, we’re not quite there in terms of having the capacity built out, but…certainly we are very optimistic that additional capacity will be built out to meet the mandate.”

In the meantime, there may be opportunity for U.S. producers to help meet the mandate. “We have U.S. biodiesel that comes into the Canadian market, and we have Canadian produced biodiesel that goes into the current U.S. market,” he continues. “Under NAFTA we have an open fuels policy between Canada and the United States, so in the near term there is the possibility for imported biodiesel being used to meet the mandated requirements.”

While the CRFA is clearly supportive of the new mandate, some groups are not. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has spoken out challenging government claims that the mandate will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The CTA also claims that the use of biodiesel could cause cold-weather operation problems and negate vehicle warranties. “It seems from the very beginning that concerns of the consumer…were secondary to those of big agribusiness, which stands to gain handsomely from the mandate,” says CTA CEO David Bradley, noting that it is frustrating that the government would add cost to businesses in times of rising fuel prices to achieve questionable environmental benefits.

“We continue to be perplexed by what the [CTA] says,” Quaiattini notes, adding that numerous demonstration projects have shown no adverse operating effects on vehicles running a B2 blend, and that the CRFA doesn’t believe the CTA’s position is representative of all trucking companies in Canada. “We think this [mandate] is widely supported by a number of trucking fleets and busing fleets that have already been using biodiesel for some time now.” 

—Erin Voegele

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