CTA assails government plan for biodiesel fuel mandate

June 1, 2009
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says unresolved concerns over the impact of biodiesel on engine operability and durability has led it to the inescapable

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says unresolved concerns over the impact of biodiesel on engine operability and durability has led it “to the inescapable conclusion that the government of Canada's current plan to introduce a biodiesel mandate is flawed and needs to be changed.”

According to David Bradley, chief executive officer of the CTA, “The engine manufacturers have not and cannot provide assurances that biodiesel will not expose the Canadian trucking industry to engine problems, increased costs, and possibly the voiding of engine warranties.”

One problem with the government's plan is the averaging provision contained in the 2006 Notice of Intent, which calls for all diesel fuel sold in Canada to contain 2% biofuel content. This provision will provide flexibility for the suppliers and manufacturers of biofuel but will no doubt force the biofuel content sold in on-road diesel well above the B2 range into B5 and higher levels. These types of biodiesel fuel levels pose engine warranty and possibly cold weather operability issues for most engines on the road today.

The other problems associated with a biodiesel mandate are blending and manufacturing standards. Improper blending practices, even with proper quality standards, can lead to problems. As a result, CTA is calling upon federal environment minister Jim Prentice to rethink the government's approach and ensure that the regulations include:

  • The averaging provision in the 2006 Notice of Intent should be removed and it be prescribed that no diesel fuel shall be sold into the general heavy commercial truck marketplace above the B2 level to reduce the risk of operability and durability problems for all heavy trucks and to protect all truck owners' engine warranties.

  • The sale of biodiesel blends higher than B2 should permitted only as a specialty fuel, protecting on-road consumers from its use.

  • In time, CTA believes the majority of engines will be able to operate with certain blends above B2. Consequently, CTA would accept a clause in the regulation that would allow for the level of the biodiesel blend to be increased once a determination has been made that releasing such blends into the general marketplace would not create operability, durability, and warranty issues.

  • The regulation should include a provision that will require the identification of regions and calendar dates in which biodiesel blends when should not be used due to extreme cold weather.

  • ASTM standards and BQ 9000 certification must be regulated to ensure compliance at all times.

  • Environment Canada must develop regulatory controls regarding proper blending processes.

  • A properly conducted regulatory impact statement must also be conducted to clearly isolate the cots impact of biofuel on the price of on-road diesel fuel.

In addition to the above regulatory requirements, CTA says Environment Canada should establish an office to monitor and analyze problems associated with the biodiesel mandate and to establish a help-line to receive information and provide answers to heavy-duty engine users during the introduction of biodiesel into their fleets and beyond.