California’s Green Light Boost For Biodiesel

Fans of diesel powertrains will welcome California’s move to allow underground storage of biodiesel fuel for blends of up to 20% that could boost its use as ‘clean’ energy.

The move follows around of decade of lobbying by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), several member companies, and the California Advanced Biofuels Alliance to persuade the State Water Board that B20 fuel meets safety requirements to be housed in underground storage tanks.

While powertrains using traditional diesel remain the most climate friendly transport solution in most countries, biodiesel claims an even cleaner solution. It is a renewable fuel for diesel engines and significantly reduces greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels. The California Air Resources Board affirms biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by at least 50% and often by as much as 81% compared to petroleum giving biodiesel some of the best carbon scores among all liquid fuels.

However, because biodiesel biodegrades in water as fast as sugar, regulators had concerns that any degradation of materials stored underground could allow diesel fuel to pollute the local water table. The California State Water Resources Control Board amended California Underground Storage Tank (UST) Regulations on August 6 to rank biodiesel up to 20% blends as the same as traditional diesel, reversing the previous wording of the regulation, which required tank owners to prove that every component of the tank was compatible.

NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen said the amended regulation fulfills a high priority industry objective to allow double-walled UST owners and operators that wish to store B20 to comply with regulations. He added: “This is a major victory towards biodiesel’s mainstream integration into the California fuel supply. We recognize the huge potential for biodiesel to supply California with a better and cleaner fuel and applaud state regulators for working closely with us to clear this final hurdle that will allow for more low-carbon biodiesel to make its way to the consumers and fleets all across the state.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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