Canola and biodiesel groups have come to the conclusion that the federal government’s proposed Clean Fuel Standard is bad for their industries.
“Our confidence in the Clean Fuel Standard has plummeted,” said Ian Thomson, president of Advanced Biofuels Canada.
“We’re just not seeing it as the promise we thought it was.”
The groups initially saw the proposed standard as a boon for the biofuel sector and the crops that are the feedstock for biofuels.
They thought it would follow in the footsteps of standards adopted in British Columbia and California, which have propped up the biofuel industry.
But when Environment and Climate Change Canada released the proposed regulatory approach for the liquid fossil fuel component of the Clean Fuel Standard on June 28, it quickly became clear Ottawa was following a different path.
“It has tilted so strongly towards favouring investments by the fossil fuel industry that it would essentially keep most of the compliance for the Clean Fuel Standard flowing through gasoline and diesel fuels,” said Thomson.
Rick White, chief executive officer of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, agreed with Thomson’s assessment.
“We do have some serious concerns about whether or not it will send a clear enough signal to the market to increase renewable diesel requirements,” he said.
“We don’t think they are quite on track.”
That is why the association has been focusing its lobbying efforts on provincial governments.
“We’ve been to the provinces and said, ‘look, there’s a problem at the federal level but you can fix it at the provincial level,’ ” said White.
Manitoba’s recently reelected Progressive Conservatives promised to increase the province’s biodiesel mandate to five percent from two percent.
Canola growers would like to see similar policies introduced in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The association estimates that about 500,000 tonnes of Canadian canola seed are currently used to make renewable diesel in Canada.
If all the provinces adopted a five percent mandate that would jump to 1.3 million tonnes of canola.
White said it would take a few years before policies could be changed and new biodiesel plants constructed, which won’t help producers out of today’s mess but market diversification needs to happen for future trade disruptions as well.
Thomson said a five percent renewable diesel mandate is a more feasible target than it was five years ago. Various states south of the border have proven it works in cold weather conditions.
There are also other renewable markets for canola oil beyond biodiesel, such as hydrotreated renewable diesel and companies like Parkland Fuel Corp., which plans to blend renewable feedstocks like canola oil with crude oil to make regular gas and diesel.
White hasn’t given up on achieving a five percent federal renewable diesel mandate because it is election season. He encourages farmers to grill their members of Parliament on the issue.
“Politicians need to hear that and hear that loudly. We need a grassroots push on this one,” he said.