Biodiesel's role in meeting AB 32 goals presented at Calif. event

By The California Biodiesel Alliance | February 13, 2015

The fourth annual California Biodiesel Conference, produced by the California Biodiesel Alliance, was held in Sacramento on Feb. 4 and featured key California regulatory, legislative, and environmental leaders and biodiesel industry professionals.

Don Scott, director of sustainability at the National Biodiesel Board, kicked off the first panel with several important statistics about biodiesel benefits relative to petroleum diesel: biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50 to 80 percent; decreases wastewater by 79 percent and hazardous waste by 96 percent; and its use prevents hundreds of premature deaths in California from reduced PM2.5 exposure. Making the same comparison with petroleum diesel, panel moderator Lisa Mortenson, co-founder and CEO of Community Fuels, presented U.S. EPA data on biodiesel’s health benefits showing significant reductions in emissions associated with smog, cancer causing compounds and respiratory illness, and made an insightful observation: “Imagine if … biodiesel were the standard and petroleum diesel were trying to gain approval.”

High-level California regulatory officials presented at the conference. Richard Corey, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, reported on progress toward the adoption of California’s groundbreaking carbon reduction strategies by other states and Canada. Adding to ARB’s well-known acknowledgement of the value of biodiesel’s GHG-lowering emissions profile—biodiesel generated 13 percent of California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) credits through Q3 2014—Corey referenced the state’s reliance on biodiesel for “future reductions of toxic diesel particulate matter.”

Janea A. Scott, commissioner at the California Energy Commission, gave an update on funding under the agency’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, citing that biodiesel is making tremendous gains and showcasing four biodiesel production projects with construction or expansion underway using agency grants.

In his keynote address, Henry Stern, principal consultant for AB 32 author Sen. Fran Pavley, thanked the audience for coming to Sacramento, and encouraged industry participants to keep coming back to tell our positive biodiesel stories.

California environmental leaders Tim O’Connor, senior attorney and director for California Climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, and Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director for air quality and climate change at the American Lung Association in California, focused on the public health and economic benefits of California’s fuel transition under AB 32. O’Connor detailed the value of global adoption of AB 32’s LCFS and cap-and-trade carbon reduction programs, which provide unparalleled models for pollution reduction and increased energy security. Holmes-Gen also discussed SB 535, which requires the investment of cap-and-trade auction proceeds in the disadvantaged California communities most impacted by pollution.

Simon Mui, director for California Vehicles and Fuels, Energy and Transportation Programs at the National Resources Defense Council discussed the status of the acceptance and harmonization of these policies in states along the Pacific Coast and British Columbia. He cited the current Promotum Report showing that the alternative fuel market share can triple to 20 percent by 2025, meeting all the requirements of the state’s LCFS and more.

Joe Jobe, CEO of the NBB, a featured speaker, stressed the importance of countering the inaccurate arguments of renewable fuel standard (RFS) opponents. “We need everyone working together to build support in Congress. Please get engaged in the legislative process and make your voice heard,” stated Jobe.

Key state agency officials also presented program overviews and biodiesel-specific information, including Douglas Hepper, chief, Meat, Poultry & Egg Safety Branch, California Department of Food and Agriculture; Kristen Macey, director of the CDFA’s Division of Measurement Standards; and Steven Scott Nicholls, business & energy programs specialist, state energy coordinator, USDA, Rural Development.

Other biodiesel industry professionals including Roger Wolf, director of Environmental Programs & Services, Iowa Soybean Association; Shashi Menon, managing partner, EcoEngineers; Gavin Carpenter, director of sales and marketing, SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel; and Shelby Neal, director of state governmental affairs, NBB, also made presentations about feedstock developments and federal and state regulatory requirements for advanced biofuels. Neal’s closing remark was especially appropriate: “I am very bullish on the future of biodiesel as California’s advanced biofuel.”

The California Biodiesel Alliance wishes to thank the following for their generous sponsorship: the National Biodiesel Board, REG, EcoEngineers, Biodico, and The Jacobsen. 

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