Biodiesel made from canola oil would emit 50 per cent less greenhouse gas than petroleum diesel fuel, which would make it eligible for the U. S. mandate to increase renewable fuel production, according to the U. S. Envi ronmental Protect ion Agency (EPA).
EPA data that compares greenhouse gas emissions between biodiesel and conventional diesel, released July 26, shows canola oil would meet a key eligibility requirement for the U. S. Renewable Fuel Standard program.
“These results, if finalized, would justify authorizing the generation of biomass-based diesel … produced by the canola oil biodiesel pathway modelled,” the EPA said, adding that canola oil would have to meet other criteria as well.
The EPA will receive comments on the data until Aug. 25, after which canola oil could become an eligible fuel source under the fuel mandate, giving it equal status with soyoil, said Tom Hance of lobbying firm Gordley Associates, which represents a coalition of U. S. canola and biodiesel groups.
“If you’re a (fuel provider) and you’ve got to meet this mandate and you’ve got a choice between fuel that’s eligible and fuel that’s not, you’re going to buy the fuel that’s eligible,” Hance said.
The main market for canola oil is edible oil, but biodiesel would give it fall-back demand, said Dale Thorenson, assistant director of the U. S. Canola Association.
U. S. farmers planted 1.5 million acres (607,100 hectares) of canola this year, mainly in North Dakota. That’s a relatively small area, but the U. S. Canola Association has set a goal of expanding to four million acres by 2015.
U. S. plants have annual capacity for 200 million gallons (909 million litres) of biodiesel from canola oil, Hance said.
Canola oil’s eligibility for the mandate may also stabilize U. S. imports of Canadian canola oil, Thorenson said. Canada, the world’s third-largest producer of canola and rapeseed, shipped 892,000 tonnes of canola oil to its top export market the United States from August 2009 through May 2010, according to Statistics Canada.
The United States Congress has set a goal of blending 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel into transportation fuel by 2022.