Imperium Founder Argues for WA Biodiesel Mandate

John Davis

johnplaza2The state of Washington has missed its goal of having biodiesel and ethanol make up at least 20 percent of its state vehicle fuel use. And that has prompted the founder of one of the nation’s biggest biodiesel facilities… which just happens to be located in Washington… to make the case that it didn’t have to happen.

John Plaza, the CEO of Imperium Renewables, writes in the Seattle Times that a recent Washington General Administration document that recommends postponing the biofuels target for another year is a sad report on biodiesel in the state… and sends a flawed mixed message:

First, let me address the GA’s wonderfully bureaucratic justification for why the state will fail to hit its goal: “limited supply.” Since January, Imperium has been storing 2 million gallons of biodiesel at our Grays Harbor facility. (Ironically, the state included this volume in its calculations to determine that the state’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was being met.) For the GA to say there is “limited supply” of biodiesel is both wrong and misleading.

Our facility is capable of producing 100 million gallons per year. But we need buyers. As long as the state chooses not to buy biodiesel from us, it is hypocritical for the GA to turn around and blame us for not making more. If the state commits to a contract, my company will happily supply the best fuel in the nation, produced by Washington state workers.

Second, the report hints that there are quality issues with biodiesel. Our fuel has been independently tested and consistently meets or exceeds the highest standards of the biodiesel industry, such as BQ9000 of the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission.

Third, the report blames a lack of infrastructure for problems in accessing fuel. Shell, Sound Refining and Exxon/Mobil have collectively invested millions of dollars into biodiesel infrastructure, including terminals, tanks, blending racks and truck/rail loading facilities. I’m puzzled as to how GA overlooked these facts.

Plaza goes on to say the postponement of the biofuel requirement is most shameful part of the document. He says the answer is not to buy less biodiesel… more will help everyone involved.

Biodiesel, Opinion