I drove by a new gas station a few days ago. The Conserv Fuel station had a green leaf logo that made the brand look eco-friendly and a quick scan of the price board confirmed that they did not carry biodiesel. I thought it odd that a station created and named to sell alternative energy solutions would not carry one of the top selling alternative fuel sources. Then I realized that I had not seen or heard about biodiesel in a while and decided to investigate. I drive a hybrid, not drive a biodiesel car, but I was curious…
Where did Biodiesel go?
On June, 4th 2009 California passed a law that made it illegal to store biodiesel. According to the California State Water Resources Control Board, biodiesel is a hazardous material when stored in an underground tank.
That put every biodiesel station in the state of California out of commission. And even though Conserv Fuel-the only biodiesel dealer between Northern California and San Diego-is no longer carrying biodiesel, Conserv Fuel’s founder, Kristopher Moller is not giving up.
ConservFuel has a forum for those who are interested in alternative energy solutions as well as a page dedicated to taking action http://www.conservfuel.com/takeaction. Membership is free and you can sign in with a number of top social networking sites-Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google, Yahoo or Open ID.
Why has the legislation stalled the use of biodiesel in California?
The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of citizens and scientists for environmental solutions have this to say about biodiesel: “Biodiesel is one of many alternative fuel options that has the potential to help reduce oil dependence and global warming pollution.” The group has concerns about the regulations and says, “But done wrong, biodiesel can actually increase global warming pollution and cause other environmental problems, such as deforestation and loss of biodiversity. With good policies in place to promote sustainable low carbon fuels, like a low carbon fuel standard, biodiesel can be an important part of a clean fuel mix.”
Biodiesel can have a huge impact on global warming. In fact, research by the Argonne National Laboratory says that neat biodiesel made from soybeans could reduce global warming by half, canola oil by even more and unconventional sources like algae could reduce global warming by 90%. This does not include waste biodiesel-i.e. used “french fry” oil. The study also says that using food oils such as soy or canola oil could impact the world’s food distribution.
The Union of Concerned Scientists says that biodiesel can change the face of alternative fuel usage and impact global warming in a positive way, “but diesel still has a long way to go to match the emissions performance of the many fuel-efficient conventional and hybrid electric gasoline-powered vehicles on the road today.
So, for the time being, it’s a good thing I have a hybrid and not a biodiesel.
Meantime, where are all the biodiesel owners in California going to fill up?